Slow-Cooked Sabbath Stew

There are almost as many recipes for this kind of stew–or cholent as there are Askenazi Jewish families. The idea is to use slow-cooking ingredients, such as tougher cuts of meat and dried beans, and to simmer the stew for as long as possible. If the oven has been used just before Friday night to bake something like a potato pudding, which needs high heat, the stew gets a good quick start. In fact, anything cooked overnight for the Sabbath should be one-third cooked before the Sabbath starts.
Edouard de Pomiane, the famous French food writer and broadcaster, studied Jewish cuisine in Poland. He claimed cholent is not so much a recipe, but a cooking technique that can be used with a variety of ingredients. Cholent, known among German Jews as shalet, is the Ashkenazic word for stew, apparently derived from the French chandlent, meaning "hot-slow."


serves 8
1 cup dried lima, navy, or great northern beans
3 tablespoons chicken fat or vegetable shortening
3 large onions, sliced
3 pounds boneless flank or brisket
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup barley
2 pounds potatoes, peeled
2 cloves garlic
salt and black pepper


1. Soak the beans overnight in water to cover. Drain and discard the soaking water.

2. Heat the fat in a heavy casserole over high heat and sweat the onions, covered with a tight-fitting lid, until soft and browned, about 15 minutes. Remove onions with a slotted spoon and set aside.

3. Sprinkle the meat with the herbs and spices. Add to casserole and brown it all over in the hot fat, turning frequently.

4. Add the remaining ingredients, then enough boiling water to cover. Cover the casserole tightly and bring ingredients to a boil.

5. Preheat the oven to 400°F Once liquid has come to a boil, put the casserole in the oven and cook for 30 minutes.

6. Then reduce the heat to the lowest setting (about 250°F), and simmer overnight and until noon the next day.

7. Do not stir. When ready to serve, remove casserole from the oven and season with salt and pepper to taste Serve hot.

8. A kugel is often cooked in a well-sealed pudding basin inside the cholent pot. Alternately, serve with Kishka, Stuffed Neck, or Potato Dumpling.

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