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Celebrating Modern Jewish Living Through Food, Tradition, and Family

Traditional Cholent

Start this slow-cooking, traditional cholent stew the night before Shabbat for a delicious, cook-free Friday night.

The Backstory: Traditional cholent is a savory, fork-tender stew that dates back thousands of years. It was appropriately created centuries ago into Jewish culture as a result of Jewish laws that restricted cooking on the Sabbath. In order to create a delicious meal that could be served without having to turn on the stove, this slow cooking stew would be started early on Friday before Sabbath and would be kept cooking in a slow cooker or on a hotplate overnight until the following day when it would be enjoyed as a midday meal following prayers at the synagogue. More of the Backstory after the recipe

Traditional Cholent as seen on The Jewish Kitchen website

Traditional Cholent

Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Jewish
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 1 day 18 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
This traditional, slow-cooking stew is a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal that truly satisfies. It can be made overnight or in a just a few hour with our modified version. No matter how your prepare it, the meat and potatoes will turn out fork tender, savory, and delicious.
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Ingredients

  • 3-4 lbs. Kosher chuck roast or brisket, cut into large pieces (ask your butcher to cut it for you)
  • 1 lb. dried lima beans
  • 3 large onions, cut into chunks
  • 4 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 lbs. small potatoes, peeled
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp. flour or corn starch
  • Kosher salt, pepper and paprika
  • boiling water to cover the meat

Instructions

  1. Soak beans overnight and drain next day. In a Dutch oven, brown onions in hot oil on medium heat. Remove onions and set aside.
  2. Rub the meat with a combination of salt, pepper and paprika and then brown the meat in the same pot that you browned the onions.
  3. While the onions were browning, in a separate pot, start to boil enough water to cover the meat.
  4. When the meat is browned, add the lima beans, garlic, potatoes, and bay leaf, onions and mix together. Add the flour at the end. Pour boiling water over the mixture just to cover it. Cover the pot tightly and bring to a boil.
  5. At this stage you can do one of two things: 1) If you wish to cook overnight to observe Sabbath guidelines of no cooking, heat oven to 400 degrees and set a rack to accommodate your Dutch Oven. Place Dutch oven into the oven and reduce heat to 250 and cook overnight until noon the next day, OR: 2) Continue to cook on the stove for 3-4 hours on low heat. You may need to add a little water now and then to maintain a gravy-like consistency with the meat (check the meat every hour or so), stirring occasionally.

…The Backstory continues: There were two benefits to this: cooking that started the previous day allowed for a meal to be pre-made without violating religious law and it also allowed beans and tough cuts of meat to become tender after cooking away for some 24 hours. Some historians trace the history of cholent from the Middle East  and then to Spain, and eventually to Eastern Europe. There are detailed histories of cholent throughout the world that can be found in Portugal, Hungary, Poland, Israel, and many other countries. It seems that if there were Jews somewhere in the world, there was cholent (flavored by local spices).

This hearty stew resembles a typical American beef stew with some variation: meat, potatoes, barley and beans are typical with different spices depending upon the region of the home chef. Sephardic Jews often added a whole egg to the simmering pot and often replaced the beef with chicken. Ashkenazi Jews, according to many of the cookbooks I’ve read, used kishka (who knew?) as well. The colors of the stew are deep, brown, and golden, and one glance tells you that this is a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs meal.

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Traditional Cholent as seen on The Jewish Kitchen website
Traditional Cholent as seen on The Jewish Kitchen website
Traditional Cholent as seen on The Jewish Kitchen website
Traditional Cholent as seen on The Jewish Kitchen website
Traditional Cholent as seen on The Jewish Kitchen website
Traditional Cholent as seen on The Jewish Kitchen website
Traditional Cholent as seen on The Jewish Kitchen website

Jodi Luber

Here goes: Born in Brooklyn. Daughter of a bagel baker with a Henny Youngman soul and a mom who makes Joan Rivers seem tame. Late bloomer. Married the love of my life at 45 and love being a mom to our three kids. I'm a professor at Boston U. Happiest in the kitchen baking and remembering how my dad would melt from a single bite of my cheesecake.
Traditional Cholent as seen on The Jewish Kitchen website
Traditional Cholent as seen on The Jewish Kitchen website

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