Cholent: The Jewish Comfort Stew

    • Prep Time
    • 7 hrs
    • Cook Time
    • 10 hrs
    • Yield
    • 1 pot

What is cholent?

Cholent is a traditional Jewish stew. It is usually simmered overnight, for 12 hours or more, and eaten for lunch on Shabbat.

There are many of variations of this dish, in both the Ashkenazi and Sephardi kitchens. The basic ingredients of cholent are meat, potatoes, beans and barley. The Sephardic version  is called hamin, and has rice and chicken instead. A traditional Sephardi addition includes whole eggs in the shell , which turn brown overnight. Ashkenazi cholent is often served with kishke, a sausage like casing  stuffed with a flour mixture.

In traditional Ashkenazi and Sephardi families, cholent is the main course of the midday meal, served on Saturdays after the morning synagogue services. Secular Jewish families in Israel also serve cholent.

Cholent is one of those rare dishes that is a completely Jewish creation. Though most Jewish dishes are adapted from surrounding cultures, cholent is truly and uniquely Jewish. It was created out of necessity in order to adapt a hot meal to the Jewish laws that prohibit cooking on the Sabbath. So Jewish cooks would bring the pot to boil on Friday before the Sabbath begins, and kept it in the oven or slow cooker until the following day. That way, there would be no need to start a fire or light a stove during the hours of Shabbat, and you could still have a delicious hot meal ready during the day. Genius, I know!

Before writing this recipe I did a lot of research. I’m not going to lie: I’ve never made cholent. My parents never made it and neither did my grandparents. Maybe my great-grandparents did, but my grandma doesn’t recall this, so I guess they didn’t either. Does that make me a terrible Jew? Am I missing out on this Jewish comfort food? What’s wrong with my family?

So I turned my research into a full-blown project. I read through more than 30 recipes and none were outstanding. So in the end, I decided to make my own Ashkenazi and Sephardic combination. I added a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and ended up with a fabulous stew.

What came out is the quintessential Jewish comfort food. Its Shabbat food at its best. This is probably the richest beef stew in the world. Eat your heart out French chefs! Of course, I added some alcohol to it just to fancy it up. After waiting patiently… okay, not patiently at all—my family was ready to eat me alive by the time it was ready. But it was worth the wait—everything you wish from a fall afternoon meal. This is definitely a new staple in our house. I hope you all enjoy it as much as we do. Bon appetite and l’chaim!

Rate Recipe

32 Ratings

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 2 1/2 lbs chuck, cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 3 onions, quartered
  • 4 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 bottle Guinness stout beer
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup dried kidney beans, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 3 potatoes, cubed
  • 1 lb marrow bones
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 bay leaves
  • hot pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions

  • 1. Heat grapeseed oil on medium in a large pot, preferably a cast iron one. Season meat with salt and pepper, then brown in batches until browned on all sides. Remove and set aside.
  • 2. Add and sauté onion for 10 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic.
  • 3. Deglaze pan with the beer. Scrape to get all the yummy bits off the bottom.
  • 4. Add the broth and bring to a boil.
  • 5. Place meat in slow cooker and cover with broth. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Simmer on low for at least 10 hours or overnight. Serve with kishke.

Instructions

  • 1. Heat grapeseed oil on medium in a large pot, preferably a cast iron one. Season meat with salt and pepper, then brown in batches until browned on all sides. Remove and set aside.
  • 2. Add and sauté onion for 10 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic.
  • 3. Deglaze pan with the beer. Scrape to get all the yummy bits off the bottom.
  • 4. Add the broth and bring to a boil.
  • 5. Place meat in slow cooker and cover with broth. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Simmer on low for at least 10 hours or overnight. Serve with kishke.

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  • Average Rating

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