The Jewish religion allows no work on the Sabbath, which lasts from sundown on Friday until Saturday night. Consequently, for centuries, throughout the Jewish world, the traditional Sabbath luncheon dish has been an oven-simmered pot of beans and meat and other additions that could be placed in the baker’s oven before sundown on Friday and brought home to eat after the Sabbath morning prayers. The dish differed from culture to culture and from country to country wherever Jews made their homes.
There are many variations of the dish, which is standard in both the Ashkenazi and Sephardi kitchens. The basic ingredients of cholent are meat, potatoes, beans and barley. Sephardi-style hamin uses rice instead of beans and barley, and chicken instead of beef. A traditional Sephardi addition is whole eggs in the shell (huevos haminados), which turn brown overnight. Ashkenazi cholent often contains kishke (a sausage casing) or helzel (a chicken neck skin stuffed with a flour-based mixture). Slow overnight cooking allows the flavors of the various ingredients to permeate and produces the characteristic taste of cholent.
One portion Chamin Bread Patties and Rice
About 3 lb ( 1.5 kg) lean rib or shin of beef
¼ cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
3 medium onions, sliced
2 cups (400 g) s mall white beans, soaked overnight
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 beef bones, with marrow
1 whole onion , including the skin
Salt and freshly ground pepper
About 6 medium potatoes, peeled and halved
First, prepare the bread patties and the rice.
Wipe the meat dry.
It may be left in a single piece or cut into large cubes for more convenient serving.
In a large, heavy pot with a lid, brown the meat on all sides in a little oil over a high heat.
Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Reduce the heat; add a little more oil to the pot along with the sliced onion; and, scraping the pot, fry the onion until translucent.
Add the soaked beans, 1 teaspoon of salt, and some black pepper. Stir well.
Add the bones and mix well with the beans and onions.
Add the whole onion with its skin.
Lay the meat on top and add salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Put the bag of rice on top of this mixture and arrange the potatoes and bread patties around it.
Add another good sprinkling of freshly ground pepper.
Cover the entire dish with water, bring to a light boil, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Taste, adding more salt if necessary.
The rice will have absorbed much of the water; if the water level has gone below the potatoes, add enough boiling water to make it up to one-third of the height of the potato layer.
Heat the oven to 300° F (150 C, gas mark 2).
Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.
Lower the heat to 200° F (100 C, gas mark 1/4) and leave overnight until early afternoon (one or two o’clock) the next day.
If it needs to be kept longer before serving, reduce the heat.
To serve, separate the various ingredients into different serving plates. Guests serve themselves from each.
Chicken and Israeli Couscous Cholent
“Israeli couscous” is a toasted pasta marketed by Osem. Remove chicken skin before cooking, if desired.
4 chicken legs
4 chicken thighs
2 Tbsps. and 1⁄2 cup olive oil
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
1 lb. bag Israeli couscous
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4-6 medium potatoes, coarsely sliced
Rinse chicken pieces in cold water. Heat olive oil in a large pot and brown pieces (in batches) on both sides. Remove chicken from pot and set aside.
Add 1⁄2 cup olive oil; heat. Add onions and saute slowly, stirring with a wooden spoon, until dark golden. Add couscous and continue to saute for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add 4 cups of water. Lower heat to simmer and continue to cook for 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
Empty contents into a bowl. Let cool slightly. Rinse and dry pot; then line bottom and sides with parchment paper. Arrange potato slices on bottom. Place half of the couscous mixture atop the potatoes. Arrange chicken pieces on top and cover with remaining couscous mixture. Add half a cup of boiling water. Cover tightly.
Put beans in large bowl and cover with cold water. Soak overnight. Drain and sort.
Heat oil in a 4-quart pot. Saute onions and garlic until onions are translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add barley and beans. Cover with water by at least 2 inches. Add salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook 30 minutes. Add potatoes and tomato sauce and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
Place cholent in a crock pot or in a 200° oven for eight hours or overnight.
Aryeh Leib’s Cholent
4 Tbsps. canola oil
3 medium onions, sliced
1 Tbsp. sugar
2⁄3 cup sorted, dried chick peas or navy beans, soaked overnight (you may substitute canned)
2⁄3 cup pearl barley, rinsed
1-2 tsps. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp. hot paprika
1 tsp. sweet paprika or
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
2 lbs. short ribs, either whole or 1-inch cubes (also known as flanken)
4 medium potatoes, cut in pieces
Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Saute onions, stirring constantly, for about 7 minutes until barely golden. Add sugar and keep stirring until onions are caramelized.
Top with beans and barley. Stir in 4 cups boiling water and salt, pepper, garlic and one of the spice options, mixing well.
Place meat on top; then arrange potatoes on top of meat. Add water to almost cover the potatoes (this is very important). Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 2 hours.
Place on Shabbat warming tray or in a preheated 200˚ oven to cook overnight.
Dafina Sephardi Cholent
2 lbs. beef, cut into 11⁄2-inch cubes
2 cups chickpeas, soaked overnight, rinsed and sorted
1 large onion, sliced
6 raw eggs (washed shells)
6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, minced
1⁄2 tsp. cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp. allspice
1⁄4 tsp. ginger
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup rinsed, uncooked rice, wrapped in cheesecloth or punctured cooking bag
Place all the ingredients except rice, in a large pot, layering according to order given. Add water to cover, plus 1-inch. Place rice in cheesecloth or cooking bag — loose enough for rice to double in volume, and tie securely. Place cheesecloth in pot below surface of water. Cover and bring to a boil.
Lower heat to simmer and continue to cook for 1 hour.
Cook on a covered stove top over very low heat overnight.