Time to prepare : 4 hrs.
2 lbs chuck or beef shank
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 tbs olive oil
4 ozs bacon, chopped
1 large onion, unpeeled, cut into quarters
1 head garlic, unpeeled, cut in 1/2 horizontally
3 stalks celery, with leafy tops, washed and cut in half
1 medium carrot, washed and cut in half
1 bay leaf
1 tbs coarse salt
1 cup white or yellow cornmeal
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 tsp coarse salt
1 small onion, peeled and minced (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup clarified butter
1 egg yolk
2 tbs Italian parsley, chopped
1. Wipe the meat with a damp cloth and cut into 2-inch cubes. Sprinkle with black pepper.
2. In a large saucepan or sauté pan, heat olive oil and bacon over medium heat. Sauté until bacon has released most of its fat, about 1 minute. Add the meat cubes and brown on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add onion, garlic, celery, carrot, bay leaf, cloves, 1 tbs salt, 3.5 quarts water and bring to boil. Lower heat, cover,let simmer for 1.5 hrs or until meat is tender.
3. Remove pot from the heat; remove meat and set aside. Strain stock through a fine sieve, pressing to extract all the juices from the vegetables; discard the vegetables. Let stock sit for a few minutes. Degrease thoroughly, then pour stock through a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth. Discard cheesecloth and measure stock, should have 10 cups. If not, add enough water to make 10 cups. Set aside.
4. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine cornmeal, Parmesan, 2 tsp salt and mix well. Add minced onion and butter and, with fingers or fork, incorporate all the ingredients well. Make a well in the center and place egg and egg yolk in it. Mix with fork until eggs have been thoroughly absorbed.
With your hands, knead all the ingredients right in the bowl for a minute or so, until you have a smooth and compact dough.
Tightly cover dough with a piece of plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature undisturbed, for about 30 mins or more.
5. Divide dough into 30 equal portions (each 1 scant tablespoonful), and, with the palms of your hands, gently roll each portion into a small dumpling.
6. In large saucepan, bring 3 qts water to a boil. Lower heat to a gentle simmer, drop dumplings into water, let cook for 15 mins. Remove them from water with slotted spoon and set aside.
7. In large pot or sauté pan, bring reserved 10 cups of broth to a boil, adding saffron, if desired. Lower heat and add meat; cook for 15 mins and correct the seasoning with salt to taste. Gently place dumplings into the broth and continue simmering 15 mins more. Serve soup at once sprinkled with chopped parsley.