Pascale's Kitchen: Cholent season is here

Some people make a spicy, North African-style hamin, while others prefer savory Ashkenazi-style cholent.

Cholent season is here (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Cholent season is here
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Now that the weather has turned cold and rainy, we can officially declare that cholent season has arrived in Israel. What could be better on a rainy Shabbat morning than to sit down to a hot meal of cholent with your loved ones?
Whether you heat your cholent in a crock pot, on a hot plate or in the oven, the results are always great.
Some people make a spicy, North African-style hamin, while others prefer savory Ashkenazi-style cholent. Whichever flavor you prefer, the important thing is that the pot cooks all night long and fills your home with an incredible aroma, which for many people brings back wonderful childhood memories of Shabbat.
I’ve heard people say that they don’t prepare cholent, because it just seems so complicated. Well, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Just follow the extremely simple recipes below, and you will be amazed at how tasty the cholent comes out. Jews from Europe seem to prefer cholent made with white beans, whereas Middle Eastern Jews like to add chickpeas. Cholent can also be made with rice, barley or wheat.
It’s not clear when the first cholent was prepared, but some people claim that Pharaoh gave the Jews cholent so that they’d have strength to build the pyramids. Others say that it was created by Jewish Italians. What is known is that Jewish communities have been preparing cholent for Shabbat for centuries.
Brown eggs
Place a sheet of baking paper on top of the cholent and then add the eggs. In the North African version, the eggs are cooked with the grains and the beef. Some people add almonds or dried fruit.
Inviting guests
Yemenites like to add jahnun, and Ashkenazim sometimes add kishke. You can play around with the cholent recipe until you find what your family likes best.
ASHKENAZI BEAN AND BARLEY CHOLENT
Some people add eggs, kishke, stuffed chicken neck or kugel to the cholent.
Makes 8 servings.451558
3 Tbsp. oil
2 onions, chopped finely
½ - ¾ cup barley, soaked overnight in water
Water
6-7 pieces flat ribs with layer of fat
2 marrow bones
½ - ¾ cup white or red beans, soaked overnight
8 red potatoes
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp. honey
8 eggs
Kishke (or vegetarian version); can be bought prepared
To prepare your own kishke, add the following to a hollowed-out intestine:
½ cup matza meal
½ cup regular flour
1 onion, grated
1 onion, chopped and sautéd in schmaltz (chicken fat)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat the oil in a large pot and add the onion. Sauté until golden brown.
Add the drained barley and pour in water so that pot is ¾ full, or until all ingredients are covered. Bring to a boil and then add the beef, bones, beans and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and add honey. Cook over a low flame.
To prepare your own kishke, mix all of the ingredients together and stuff the intestine with it. Close it off at both ends and place it inside cholent pot.
Place a piece of baking paper on top of the cholent, and then add the eggs. Cover pot and cook for 10 more minutes. Place on your hot plate and let it cook all night. Alternatively, you could place the pot in a heated oven that stays on all night.
Level of difficulty: Medium.
Time: 30-60 minutes.
Status: Meat.
MOROCCAN CHICKPEA SKINHA WITH WHEAT AND RICE
The wheat and rice are cooked separately.
350 gr. (2½-3 cups) chickpeas, soaked in water overnight
4-5 pieces of beef on bone, such as osso buco
2 marrow bones
1 small garlic head (remove top layer of skin)
6-8 potatoes
2 sweet potatoes
6-8 eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. turmeric
¼ tsp. cumin
8-10 cups water
4 garlic cloves
1 date
250 gr. wheat or barley, soaked for 1 hour
1 cup rice, rinsed well
1 cup water
8 eggs
Meat loaf (optional):
300 gr. ground beef
1 cup ground hazelnuts
¾ cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tsp. spicy pepper
¼ tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 Tbsp. oil
Greased aluminum foil
Arrange the chickpeas, beef pieces, bones, garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes and eggs in the pot. Add half of the salt, pepper, paprika, turmeric and cumin.
Pour in water so that all of the ingredients are covered. Add the date and cook over a medium flame until water boils.
Pour the wheat into a plastic cooking bag that can be used in the oven. Season with salt, paprika, cumin, turmeric and 2 cloves of garlic. Pour in ½ cup of water and seal bag well.
Add the rice to a separate cooking bag and add 1 cup of water and the second half of the spices. Add some more salt and 2 cloves of garlic and seal bag well. Use a toothpick to poke a few holes in both of the bags.
Note: If you use cloth bags instead of plastic, then you don’t need to add water – just the spices and a little oil.
When the cholent starts to boil, add the cooking bags with the wheat and the rice and the eggs.
To prepare the meat loaf, mix all the ingredients together and form a loaf. Put the meat loaf inside a cooking bag and close it well. Poke a few holes in the bag with a toothpick and add it to the cholent. Continue cooking cholent on a hot plate or in the oven overnight.
Level of difficulty: Medium.
Time: 90 minutes.
Status: Meat.
TRIPOLITAN WHEAT HARISSA
Makes 6-8 servings.
4 Tbsp. oil
2 large onions, peeled, rinsed and chopped
10 cloves of garlic, peeled, rinsed and crushed
½ kg. beef neck, cubed; or 6-8 pieces of chicken, rinsed
1-2 beef bones, rinsed
1 marrow bone, rinsed
1 tsp. pilpelchuma or harissa
1 Tbsp. spicy paprika
1 tsp. sweet paprika
½ tsp. turmeric
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
3 cups wheat, rinsed well
6 cups water
Eggs (optional), 1 for each person
Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the beef (or chicken) and bones and sauté 5 more minutes until beef or chicken browns.
Add the pilpelchuma, sweet and spicy paprika, turmeric, cinnamon and salt. Pour in the water, stir and cook covered for 30 minutes over a medium flame.
Add the wheat and lower the flame. Cook another 30 minutes. Add the eggs and transfer the pot to the hot plate.
Level of difficulty: Medium.
Time: 75 minutes.
Status: Meat.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.