If you have not done so already, please read the following two posts before reading this one for an understanding of "Cholent" and how to begin to prepare the dish.
- Sweet Potatoes
- Fresh Onions
- Fresh Garlic
- Fresh Mushrooms
- Fresh Basil
- Fresh Oregano
- Fresh Bay Leaves
- White Kidney Beans
- Dark Red/Brown Kidney Beans
- Cooking Wine
- Marrow (Meat) Bones
- Olive Oil
In order to do this "correctly" I am going to do it on a time line. So that you can get an idea as to how long the process will take. Also bear in mind if you are peeling each item as we go along (which is fine) it will take more time to get the food into the pot and cooking. But it is not critical.
For our purpose we are going to assume the Sabbath starts at 6 PM on Friday Evening. Thus you really should start the process of Cholent no later than 12 or at the worst 1 PM on Friday.
As mentioned your pot should be at least 5 liters and a good pot. It must distribute heat evenly and be strong and sturdy. Trying this with anything else is just going to cause for burnt cholent. Remember this pot has to be on a flame now for at least 5 hours and then on an electric plate (Platter) from Friday night before Sabbath starts to around 12 or 1 PM on Saturday afternoon when you eat lunch.
It is 1:00 PM Friday Afternoon.
- Lay a thin layer of olive oil on the bottom of the pot. Not much. Just enough to cover to the bottom. That should be all in all just a few drops.
- Now Fill the pot one-quarter with water. No more though you may be tempted to do it. Much of what you will be cooking has "water weight" and as it goes into the cholent the water will come out and add to what you already have. As usual some of the water will evaparote in the cooking process. If you see that there is no water on the top as you add in more and more add a cup at a time. Before the Sabbath you will be taking out a lot of that water anyway. You will see the olive oil rise with oil. Not to worry.
- Turn on the flame to low and put the pot with water on it.
- Peel and cut the potatoes into half or quarters. Drop them in the pot.
- Peel your Sweet Potatoes and cut them into pieces. Not small pieces. Drop them in as well. Remember Sweet Potatoes have a habit of "melting" over a period of time being cooked.
- Peel your onions cut them in half and drop them in.
- Garlic as I mentioned in the previous Cholent Post. Drop the cloves in.
- Peel Carrots cut them into half or thirds and drop them in.
- Mushrooms are real water weight. Depending on the size and kind you bought cut them in half or quarters and drop them in.
- So far you have a potato-onion-veggie soup.
- The water by now should be hot if not boiling. During this first phase it is critical NOT to allow the pot to boil. Just remain hot. Make sure your flame is low.
- Now on to some of the spices. First drop around 3-6 crushed Bay leaves in. You can crush them with your hand. (Clean hands - sheesh!)
- Now the Basil. Take the leaves off the stem and around 2 Tablespoons. Drop them in.
- Same thing with the Oregano.
- NOW you can take your big serving spoon and stir the pot a bit. Stir all those ingredients around for a minute or so.
- Next come the White Kidney Beans & Dark Red/Brown Kidney Beans. Rinse them off if you have not soaked them and drop them in. (I soak them first for a few hours.)
- Next the Barley. Drop it in.
- Next the Parsley. According to your taste. Drop it in.
- Now Stir the pot again for a minute or so.
- Now the real magic starts.
- Turmeric - As I said it is difficult to guage. BUT this should turn the water dark orange/light brown. It is critical for cooking and taste. Don't skimp but do not put in too much. Just do not leave it out!
- Hawwaj - If you can get a hold of this spice then one tablespoon for 5 liters. It is not critical but in experimenting I found it added a great deal to the Cholent.
- Now add the Cooking Wine. Good cooking wine.
- Use your nose now. Smell the spices. The cholent should be heating up. Stir the pot and close it now for 5-10 minutes. Let the cooking process begin. Do not be in a hurry or hasty unless this is a last minute thing before the Sabbath. (Always happens to me - so do as I preach and not as I practice. Besides I am cute so I get away with burned Cholent from time to time!) Just make sure the pot does not boil yet. And if you do not see any water on top add a couple of cups.
- 10 minutes later you return to the Cholent. Open the cover. Once again if it has begun to boil put it on a low flame or a smaller flame. No boiling yet.
- Put all the meat in the pot. Go ahead. Dump it in.
- Stir the Pot and now add a bit more Turmeric.
- Take your jar of honey and pour it now into the pot! Stir.
- Take the marrow meat bones and put them on top of the pot.
- Close the pot and now let it reach a boil. When it has boiled for 30 - 60 seconds lower the flame again and NOW FOR GOODNESS SAKE LEAVE IT ALONE! Let it cook but pay attention to it from time to time that it does not reach a boil. Hot but not boiling.
- No I did not forget the Kishke... sheesh.. no faith in Teddy!
- It is now 1:45 PM Friday Afternoon.
- Every half hour or so, go in and give the pot a couple of stirs.
- The only thing you must make sure of the whole time is that you do not smell in the slightest any burning going on. Sometimes with a bad pot or a bad flame or just because the Angels want to have fun with you - this happens. ARGH! If it does TURN OFF THE FLAME AND SWITCH POTS. Just take everything out and put it in the new pot after covering it with olive oil.
- By 4:00 PM the smell of the meat and spices should be all over the house. It is a really great smell, but it is going to get better. At 4:00 - 4:30 you will go to the pot and peek inside. It should be bubbling or just really hot.
- Now take a ladle and begin to remove any excess water on top - this is important to the process by the way. You need to leave water in the pot, but you should see the ingredients on top of the pot and not the water. Don't worry about the spices in the water. A lot of them are already inside the food.
- If the Sabbath begins at 6:00 be ready with the Kishke at 4:30 or 5:00. NEVER defrost the Kishke (if it store bought). If you have one, two or three Kishke's to put in, you are going to take them straight out of the freezer, unwrap them and put them into the top of the pot. Squish the top closed. Don't worry about the Kishke. It will be fine in just a few minutes. By the way it expands. But even if your pot is full to the brim after the Kishke is in don't worry! Kishke is Kishke is Kishke. It will be fine.
- Now the Sabbath approaches. If you are observant, turn off the flame and put the pot on the Electric platter (of course make sure the platter is on!) Go get a towel. And cover the top of the pot and as much of the sides as you can. Not the whole pot but most of it. We are trying to keep the pot as warm as possible.
- All done? Leave it alone! You made it with love? Sabbath morning you will wake up to an incredibly great smell in the house of meat, kishke, veggies and spices.
So you don't think it is magic? All right. For Aviad's Bar Mitzvah I made 29 Liters of Cholent for the synagogue - "Kiddish" after prayers on Saturday morning. I have witnesses for this following statement. Around 150 witnesses.
Maurice Art Print
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Feel free to experiment with this recipe. Honey is critical though for Teddy's Cholent. So are good meat bones etc. Most of the time when I make it I have to plan as well to be able to transport it to the Synagogue before the Sabbath. This adds an hour or so into the timing and I have to start earlier. Believe it or not after a couple of times your nose will tell you exactly what when and where to do and to add. Pay attention to the smells.