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Category: Mains

Beef Tzimmes With Butternut Squash and Matzo Balls

Tzimmes and sweet tajines come from very different places--the first is a specialty of Ashkenazi Jews from eastern and central Europe, the latter are made by Sephardic Jews from Morocco--but they have things in common. Not least is the fact ... Read more

Total time: 2 hours 40 minutes | Serves 4 to 6
Note: If you would like to thicken the sauce, choose one of these methods. Baking: Bake the tzimmes uncovered at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes. Using a flour slurry: Mix 1 tablespoon of flour with 2 tablespoons of water to a smooth paste in a bowl. Bring the tzimmes to a gentle simmer. Gradually ladle about 1 cup of tzimmes sauce into the flour paste, stirring until smooth. Return the mixture to the pan and bring to a simmer, stirring as gently as possible to avoid breaking up the squash and prunes. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.

Matzo balls

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 cup matzo meal, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons more, if needed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • Dash freshly ground pepper
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons tzimmes broth, chicken broth or water

Step 1Lightly beat the eggs with oil in a bowl. Add the 1/2 cup matzo meal, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Stir with a fork until the batter is smooth. Slowly stir in the broth. Cover the batter and refrigerate for 20 minutes; the batter will thicken.

Step 2In a saucepan, bring about 2 quarts of water to a boil with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. Reduce the heat so the water barely simmers.

Step 3With wet hands, take about 1 teaspoon of batter and shape it lightly in a small, roughly round dumpling by gently rolling it between your palms. The batter should be too soft to form a neat, smooth ball. If you're not sure whether the matzo balls will hold together, cook one in the simmering water for 10 minutes, remove it with a slotted spoon and taste it for firmness and seasoning. If it is too soft, stir in matzo meal by tablespoons. If it is too firm, gradually stir in broth by tablespoons.

Step 4Continue shaping the matzo balls, wetting your hands before each one and slipping them carefully into the simmering water. Cover and simmer over low heat until just firm, 30 minutes. This may seem long, but it makes them tender. Keep them warm in their covered pan until ready to serve, or refrigerate in their cooking liquid and reheat gently in the liquid. To serve, remove them from the water with a slotted spoon.


  • 2 pounds boneless lean beef chuck, trimmed of fat
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, cut in 1-inch chunks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 pounds butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups pitted dried plums or prunes

Step 1Cut the beef in 1 1/4-to 1 1/2-inch pieces and pat them dry. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy stew pan. Add the beef cubes in 2 batches, browning each lightly on all sides over medium-high heat and removing the browned meat with a slotted spoon to a plate. This should take 13 to 15 minutes.

Step 2Add more oil if the pan is dry and heat it. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until brown, about 10 minutes; cover if the pan becomes dry. Return the meat to the pan with any juices on the plate. Add the carrots, salt and pepper to taste and enough water to just cover. Bring to a boil, skimming occasionally. Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the beef is tender, 1 1/2 hours. (For a lighter sauce, refrigerate the cooked meat and its sauce separately for several hours, then skim the fat from the top of the sauce. Return the beef to the sauce and reheat.)

Step 3Peel the squash and cut it in half lengthwise. Discard the seeds and stringy parts in the cavity. Cut the squash in 1-inch cubes.

Step 4Once the beef is tender, stir the honey and cinnamon into the sauce. Add the squash and push the pieces into the liquid. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the squash pieces over. Add the plums. Cover and simmer until the squash is tender, 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Step 5You can add matzo balls to the tzimmes or put a few in each portion at serving time. In either case, use a slotted spoon to transfer them gently from their cooking liquid. If you're adding them to the pan, spoon a little sauce over them, cover and let stand so they absorb flavor for 10 minutes, or until ready to serve.


To substitute sweet potatoes for the squash: use 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds of the orange-fleshed type.

Each of 6 servings:
584 calories; 1,408 mg sodium; 175 mg cholesterol; 25 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 56 grams carbohydrates; 37 grams protein; 4.19 grams fiber.
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