I came across the idea of Cholent purely by accident, but I’m so glad I did! It’s a perfect dish for those days that you want something warm and yummy, but you aren’t going to be around to fix it.
But it’s the eggs that really make it.
Cholent came about due to the restrictions on the Jewish people on the Sabbath. As I understand it, no fires could be started – which generally meant that no cooking would be done. However, if a fire was already going it could be used. Wanting to feed their families a hot meal on the Sabbath, Jewish housewives devised this stew that could be slow cooked over low heat. The variety of recipes is nearly endless, as it traveled with the Jewish people as they were spread out around the world, taking on the flavors of the varios regions.
After reading numerous recipes, I found one that looked do-able with the current diet restrictions we are living under (gluten- & dairy-free) with few modifications, and used the foodstuffs I already had on hand. I found this recipe over at JewishMag.com, and have since modified it to fit the diet and tastes of our family. My modifications are in italics. I hope you enjoy it!
- 1 ¼ cups dry mixed beans- I used chickpeas, pinto beans and small turtle beans
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- one large onion, coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ½ Tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika - didn’t have it, so I used chili powder
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp pepper
- 1 ½ cup roasted buckwheat groats- recipe called for barley, but that has gluten
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into large chunks
- 1 lb beef brisket- I used rib eye steak
- 1 smoked beef bone or marrow bone
- 6 eggs in shell, washed
Ingredients I added to the original recipe:
- spicy Mexican oregano
- garlic powder
- white pepper
- more chili powder
- Herbes de Provence
- 3 large carrots, peeled, cut into large chunks
- 2 stalks celery – cut into large chunks
- Rinse beans then soak for 5 to 8 hours in enough water to have three finger-deep water over top of beans. When soaked, drain. I soaked mine overnight, drained them & soaked them again until that evening – I had to pick up one or two ingredients yet.
- Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat and sauté onion until transparent. Add garlic, stir for several minutes over heat then add paprika, salt and pepper, and continue to cook for a minute. Remove from heat.
- Combine beans, onion mixture, grain, potatoes, brisket and bone in a large baking dish or dutch oven with a tightly-fitting lid. Carefully slip in raw unshelled eggs and bury them under cholent mix. Add water to cover.
- Place tightly covered pot in oven (seal lid with aluminum foil if not absolutely tight) and bake at 200 degrees F for at least 6 hours and up to 18 hours. Check liquid level occasionally to prevent cholent from drying out and replenish if needed.*see notes below.
When ready to serve, dig out eggs, shell them and serve in quarters as first course with fresh raw vegetables or crackers. Remove brisket and slice. Serve brisket and cholent family style on serving dish. The best accompaniment with cholent is an assortment of good pickles and sauerkraut. Yields 6 to 7 generous servings.
My notes & changes:
Most of the recipes I found had you cut the meat into 1-inch chunks, so I did that before cooking it. It the future I think I may coat these pieces with seasoned flour and brown them slightly. Or I may lessen the cost and use stew meat that has been browned. The steak was soooooooo good though!
As the bone I had was HUGE, it took up half of the cooking pot. Make sure your dutch oven is large enough to hold all the ingredients and the bone! To get the water to cover I had to fill it almost to the rim.
I started it around 7:00 pm, and we tried it for lunch at 1:00 pm the next day. The eggs were simply divine. Wow. I have never had an egg that tasted so creamy and delish! The beans, however, were still very crunchy and the flavor was similar to gruel (jokes were abounding around the table).
At that point I added the other veggies and seasonings, turned the heat up to 275 degrees F, and put the pot back into the oven for another 8 hours. As the kids didn’t want stew a second meal in a row, we put it all in the refrigerator overnight.
I took the leftovers for lunch the next day and all I can say is “Wow!” What a difference a day makes. This stuff was amazing. The flavors melded together beautifully. The carrots actually held up to long, slow cooking, the steak was full of flavor and so tender.
And the leftover egg? Perfection.
I will be making this again, most definitely. And next time, I just might try sealing the edges of the lid with bread dough. Some Challah would have been a divine addition. Gluten-free, of course.
I submitted this for the “Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free” blog carnival over at GlutenFreeHomemaker.com – if you are gluten-free or looking for recipes to cook for someone who is, I HIGHLY recommend heading over there to take a look.