Joan Nathan's Cooking Jewish in America has a great cholent recipe (I think it is a Lubavitch adaptation). The book has some very interesting history and a story about Meyer Lansky betting the money his mother gave him to be used to bake the cholent in the communal oven back in the day on the lower east side.
I had never made it until I tried the recipe. It is along the lines of Eric Rosens (above) sans the cream of wheat and onion soup mix. I cook mine in an old-fashiond polka dot roasting pan in the oven at 225 F since I don't have a crockpot, and I start it Friday morning. I have tried adding a piece of smoked meat, but didn't like it.
I never use a liner. My recipe is pretty simple, I use a 3 qt, 1/2 bags of chulent beans with a handful of barley (I also use some large lima beans), half an onion chopped, 1/4 cup of chicken soup mix (telma or osem) a couple of squirts of ketchup a packet of splenda and a drop of honey. Right before shabbos I throw in some kishke. I also sometimes cut in a potato. I usually put it up Thursday night.
Please be careful with a liner. When we use ours for so long (like from noon on Friday, for 24 hours or more), the liners tend to melt. We skip the liners but when Shabbos is over, we rinse out the pot (no scrubbing) and then fill it with water and dishwasher soap and leave it on high for 1.5-2 hours and it cleans with very little effort and no worry about melted plastic.
By the way, for our cholent, we use some combination or potatoes/beans/barley/rice, meat (we use smoked shwarma or flanken or whatever), broth, and onions. We add carrots and any other seasonings to taste. I would suggest keeping it simple and building from there.
Be careful with rice as it can make things mushy. We love it but it is too mushy for some.
Sounds like WAY too much work....I stick with simple, with a few Southern flavors for ethnic enhancement, and it always gets rave reviews:
potatoes, onions, barley, rolled oats, cream of wheat, 3 beans (kidney, baby lima, pinto), flanken meat, ketchup, bit o' honey, optional onion soup mix ( I prefer NOT), and only one spice needed: Lawry's Seasoning Salt...magic stuff! I use the bag inserts too, much neater! Here's my halachic insertion: careful about preparing on Friday afternoons, as it would have to be edible before Shabbos starts in order to avoid major issues....which means mine has been cooking since early Friday morning. One other tip: if you lay a kishke still wrapped in its inner (remove the outer) plastic on top of the cholent under the lid, it expands to twice its size and is quiet succulent by eatin' time.
i typically use a 5.5 quart crockpot and choose my own beans, but you can get a mix. i use:
1/4 cup kidney
1/4 cup great northern
1/4 cup chick peas
1/4 cup navy/lima/cranberry/black ( basically your choice)
1/2 cup barley
1 onion sliced and if you want sauteed
3 potatos peeled and chopped.
vegetables as you see fit ( 1 pepper, 6 mushrooms)
For meat, you can use beef stew meat, but what has made mine a success was to use about 4 hot dogs cut up.
1 large can of crushed tomatoes
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cumin
1/2 bottle beer. a lager or darker beer is better - Sam Adams light works well, but whatever you got should work
Soak beans overnight in large bowl. If you are short on time, you can boil them.
Add all ingredients into crock pot. Add about 2 -3 large squirts of ketchup too, some bbq sauce if you have doesnt hurt.
Place all ingredients into the crock pot. Add 1/2 - 3/4 bottle of the beer, and enjoy the rest. Fill the rest with water. Cover and cook on Low. I usually make this friday afternoon, and saturday lunch it is ready to eat. There is some experimenting you will need to do with moving the lid on or off or just a crack, depending on how much water has been absorbed.
I have used the crock pot liner a few times, but im not a big fan.