It could be said that cholent (and its Sephardi cousin dafina) is one of the most truly Jewish dishes. Born out of necessity and resourcefulness, it was a way to use scraps of meat and bones, potatoes and barley to make a hearty stew cooked low and slow on Friday night so that there would be a delicious and filling meal for Shabbat lunch without the additional use of fire (according to Jewish law, it is forbidden to light a fire from Friday night at sundown to Saturday night at sundown).
This recipe is not mine, in fact I almost never make cholent. But it is a close version of the beloved cholent recipe passed down from my husband’s grandmother, Baba Billie Goldberg of blessed memory, to my husband. It is so delicious and I love it, but it wasn’t until our wedding day that I was given the keys to the cholent car: My mother-in-law hand-wrote the recipe on a piece of paper and my husband gave it to me after the chuppah. My official welcome into the Goldberg clan was through a beloved family recipe.
Recipes aren’t always about the food — they can also be about history, how our people adapted in the myriad locations they lived as well as the more personal stories of our loved ones. This cholent recipe is both delicious and rich with memory.
Enjoy these easy directions and let us know how your family likes to make cholent – we know every family has their precious combination of ingredients and spices that make it just right.
- 1 1/2 lbs fatty stew meat or flanken
- 4-5 marrow bones
- 1 whole onion, outer layer peeled
- 2 large or 4 small Yukon gold or russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 3/4 lb pearl barley (around 2 cups)
- 1 cup kidney beans
- 3-4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 lb packaged kishke
- 3 cups water plus additional water
Variation: Can substitute part of the water with vegetable stock, chicken stock or beer.
- While prepping your ingredients, cover barley and kidney beans with 3-4 cups hot water. Set aside for 20 minutes.
- Grease the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray.
- Add marrow bones, meat and potatoes to pot. Add onion and garlic cloves. Add barley, beans and the water they soaked in.
- Mix ketchup, paprika and 2 1/2 cups water (can also use beer or stock) and add to pot. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix well.
- Add kishke on top.
- Set slow cooker to low and cook overnight. Check in the morning and add additional water or stock if it seems dry.
Pronounced: CHO-lent, Origin: Yiddish, but believed to be derived from French, a slow-cooked stew traditionally prepared for and left cooking over Shabbat.