I was first introduced to Cholent (a uniquely Jewish dish), by my husband's family over two decades ago. I fell in love with the delicious flavours and still can't get enough of it to this day! It has become the staple of comfort food in our home. When we're trying to be extra fancy, we also make some Kishke to go with our Cholent! I have included that recipe below as well.
A little bit of history about Cholent: It was created because Jewish law does not permit cooking on Shabbat. To adhere to this prohibition, Jewish cooks began to create meat and bean stews in heavy pots that would slowly simmer inside a low-heat oven overnight. They would prepare the stew on Friday before sundown, cook it partially, and place it into the oven to continue cooking throughout the night. That way, there would be no need to kindle a fire or light a stove during the hours of Shabbat; they would simple remove the stew from the oven at mealtime and it would be fully cooked and ready to serve.
Ingredients for Cholent:
2 1/2 lbs large red potatoes, peeled and halved (my mom prefers skin on- go with what you like!)
2 whole onions, chopped
2 1/2 lbs beef stew meat or brisket, cut into chunks
2 marrow bones
1 cup dried beans - lima, pinto, chickpeas, red beans (all beans are welcomed!)
1/2 cup pearl barley (for gluten free, use coarse-grain kasha )
3 whole garlic cloves
6 eggs (optional)
1/4-1/2 tsp black pepper
1 quart low sodium chicken broth
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
ketchup & Frank's Red Hot to taste (also optional but I love it!)
Steps for cooking Cholent:
1) Note: The beans will be easier to digest when soaked prior to cooking. To do this, place the beans into a large pot and cover with water. The beans will expand to over double their size, so make sure you cover by several inches of water to allow for expansion. You could soak them overnight or, if you would like to speed up the soaking process, bring the beans to a boil for 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Let them soak in the cooking water for 1 hour, then drain and rinse well before cooking.
2) In a large slow cooker, place the potatoes in a single layer on the bottom of the slow cooker.
3) Sprinkle the onions on top of the potatoes.
4) Place the beef in a single layer on top of the onions and potatoes. Place the two marrow bones in the meat. If you're adding a kishke, now would be the time to put it in the cooker. (Kishke is my favourite! I am adding a section below with the recipe for this delightful addition to Cholent).
5) Rinse the beans clean. Do the same with the grains (barley or kasha). Sprinkle the beans (raw or pre-soaked) and optional grains over the top of the meat. Place the three whole garlic cloves into the meat, evenly spaced. Sprinkle the whole mixture with the black pepper.
6) If using eggs, rinse the shells well and then tuck them into the meat. In a 4-cup container, whisk together the low sodium chicken broth, kosher salt, paprika, turmeric, cumin, cayenne (ketchup & hot sauce).
7) Pour the liquid over the cholent. Add additional water until all of the beans and pieces of meat are covered. For us, it's usually another 1-2 cups of water in our slow cooker-- it will vary; I usually add a bit more liquid if using grains, because they will soak it up.
8) Cover the slow cooker. Cook on low heat for 16 hours. Check occasionally as it's cooking; add additional water and stir a bit if it's looking too dry. I set my slow cooker to warm until ready to serve.
9) Bon Appétit! (Don't forget to peel the eggs before serving!)
*To cook this recipe in the oven, layer the ingredients in a large heavy 7-8 quart Dutch oven. Make sure you have enough liquid to just cover all ingredients. Cover with lid and cook cholent at 200 degrees F for 12-16 hours.
A little bit of history about Kishke. In the old days, kishke was made by stuffing the intestines of a cow with tasty pasty type foods - kishke is Yiddish for intestine. Today, however, modern factories make kishke in a plastic tubing, some just wrap the filling with paper that falls (or comes) off somewhere during the eating process. I use foil to cook mine in and it works great.
Ingredients for cooking Kishke:
1/2 cup of oil
2 stalks of celery
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of paprika
Steps for cooking Kishke:
The first thing to do is to grind the celery, carrots and onion in a food processor. Once they have reached a consistency that tells you that they aren't going to get smaller, add the flour and turn the processor back on until they are mixed well. Next add the oil and spices and mix very well.
Layout a large sheet of aluminum foil on the table. I use the aluminum foil instead of the kishke intestines to hold everything together.
Take the mixed ingredients from the processor and roll it tightly into a tube shaped mess. Grease up you piece of aluminum foil with some margarine and then roll the aluminum foil tightly around it.
Add it to your slow cooker with your Cholent, at Step 4 (see Cholent recipe above)
If you're like me and adore Kishke, you can just bake it at any time, without Cholent.
-Bake it in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, (I forgot what it is in centigrade sorry) for about 1 1/2 hours. Slice it and serve it as a side dish (remember it tastes better served with out the aluminium foil).