This is an idea recipe of cold winter days, especially if you happen to have a slow cooker.
Over the centuries countless regional ethnic dishes have been adopted by Jewish cooks and made kosher to fit the Jewish religious standards for pure eating. This means that “Jewish food” is really world cuisine; there are very few dishes that are uniquely Jewish. Bagels? A Polish baked bread originally created for Lent and later embraced by the Jews. Gefilte fish? A German dish adopted by Yiddish cooks. But Cholent - well, Cholent is one of the few foods that is totally and completely Jewish. It was created because Jewish law does not permit cooking on Shabbat. To adhere to this prohibition, Jewish cooks began to create meat and bean stews in heavy pots that would slowly simmer inside a low-heat oven overnight. They would prepare the stew on Friday before sundown, cook it partially, and place it into the oven to continue cooking throughout the night. That way, there would be no need to kindle a fire or light a stove during the hours of Shabbat; they would simple remove the stew from the oven at meal time and it would be fully cooked and ready to serve.
2 1/2 lbs large red potatoes, peeled and halved (for a smaller slow cooker, use 2 lbs)
2 whole onions, chopped
2 1/2 lbs beef stew meat or brisket, cut into chunks (for a smaller slow cooker, use 2 lbs)
2 marrow bones - Ask your butcher for these, they will often be FOC
1 cup dried beans - lima, pinto, chickpeas, red beans (not kidney), or a mixture
1/2 cup pearl barley or coarse-grain Buckwheat (optional - for gluten free, do not use pearl barley)
3 whole garlic cloves
6 eggs (optional)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 quart low sodium chicken broth
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
(1) The beans in this recipe will soften without any pre-soaking due to the long slow cooking process, however they will be easier to digest with a simple quick soak prior to cooking. To do this, place the beans into the bottom of a large pot and cover with water. The beans will expand to over double their size, so make sure you cover by several inches of water to allow for expansion. Bring the beans to a boil for 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Let them soak in the cooking water for 1 hour, then drain and rinse well before proceeding with the recipe.
(2) In a large slow cooker (the larger the better!), place the potatoes in a single layer on the bottom of the cooking vessel.
(3) Dice the onions and Sprinkle over the potatoes.
(4) Place the beef in a single layer on top of the onions and potatoes. Place the two marrow bones in the meat.
(5) Rinse the beans clean, checking for any stones or impurities. If using barley or Buckwheat, do the same with the grains. Sprinkle the beans (raw or pre-soaked) and optional grains over the top of the meat. Place the three whole garlic cloves into the meat, evenly spaced. Sprinkle the whole mixture with the black pepper.
(6) If using eggs, rinse them well and then tuck them into the meat. In a bowl, whisk together the low sodium chicken broth, kosher salt, paprika, turmeric, cumin and cayenne.
(7) Pour the liquid over the Cholent. Add additional water until all of the beans and pieces of meat are covered.
(8) Cover the slow cooker. Cook on low heat for 16 hours. Check occasionally as it's cooking; add additional water and stir a bit if it's looking too dry. Most cookers will auto-switch to warm when the cooking is complete. If yours doesn't, set it to warm until ready to serve.
(9) Peel the eggs before serving and enjoy.