The Leftover Chronicles: Tamale Dumplings or Mexican Matzah Balls

Close-up of soup

I love cooking. I usually cook too much for me and Jeanne to finish in one sitting so we often have leftovers. I love leftovers (I’ve extolled their virtues before when talking about Hash (no, not the kind you smoke). Not because I like reheated whatever from the night before but because I like the opportunities they pose the next day. What can I do with a bit of pot roast, some gravy and a few vegetables that are starting to lose their luster?

That’s where I started yesterday.  I had a bit of leftover pot roast and gravy.  I had braised the beef in a mix of beef broth, canned tomatoes (I like the Muir Glen Fire-roasted Crushed Tomatoes), two chipotle chilies in adobo (seeded), a little whole cumin seed, a pinch of oregano, onion, garlic, salt and pepper.  Proceed like any other pot roast.  The next day you’ll have leftovers.  Especially prized is the gravy – it’s like a richly flavored instant soup base.

So, I had this idea that I would make a soup from the leftovers and make some Mexican-inflected dumplings to go with it.  In the end, although I’ve never had them, the dumplings seemed to me to be something like Matzah balls.  The touch of lime tartness and mild chili heat are nicely balanced by the earthiness of the dumpling.  Of course, we ended up with left over soup but I have to have something to eat for breakfast.

Leftover Beef Pot Roast Soup with Tamale Dumplings (Mexican Matzah)

Leftover Beef Pot Roast Soup

1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 C. left over beef pot roast
1 C. gravy from the pot roast, or what pan drippings you have from a roast
3 C. chicken stock
1 C. water
1 – 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 Poblano chili, roasted, peeled and seeded, chopped (substitute 1 can chopped mild green chiles, drained)
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
salt and pepper
1/8 tsp. ground chipotle chili
1 fresh tomato, chopped
juice of 1/2 fresh lime
1/2 C. cilantro
1 – 2 shots of bottled chili sauce (I use Frank’s)

Note:  You could use almost any leftover roasted or pot roasted meat to make this sort of soup.  Chicken or turkey works well; pork yields a somewhat richer end result.  Use whatever pan dripping you have instead of the pot roast gravy.  Shrimp would be great (although you’d do better to start with fresh shrimp rather than left overs – who has leftover shrimp anyway?).

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium/low heat.  Add the beef, gravy, chickpeas, chicken stock, water, Poblano chili, paprika, ground chipotle, salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the fresh tomato and lime juice.  Taste and adjust seasoning and heat to your taste with a few shots, or more, of bottle hot sauce.

Bring the soup to a low boil and dumplings (see recipe below), simmer for 5 minutes.  Add chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.

Tamale Dumplings or Mexican Matzah

1/2 C. Masa Harina
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground chipotle chili
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup corn, fresh or frozen, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan
1 egg beaten
1/4 C. water

Toast the corn in a dry frying pan until it is lightly browned around the edges.  Set aside to cool.

Mix the dry ingredients, add egg, water and toasted corn.  Mix well. Let rest 15 minutes.

With wet hands, shape into small balls.  Try to get at least 24, otherwise they’ll take too long to cook and they won’t be bite-sized.  Add the balls to the simmering soup.  Gently stir to separate the dumplings from each other. Simmer for 5 minutes.  They will float as they cook through.


2 thoughts on “The Leftover Chronicles: Tamale Dumplings or Mexican Matzah Balls

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