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Meatballs Shabbos Day and other Blech related questions

I know there have been threads about this int he past, but I am not the savviest searcher. Anyone willing to respond/comment would be most welcome.

So my husband has said a big N O to anything that comes from the crock pot for Shabbos day because it tastes already digested and I so totally agree (with the exception of my very awesome Chili, but we are just chili'd out at this point).
I have obtained a blech - the electric plug in type.
No idea how to use it on Shabbos though - do i have to leave everything on it from before Shabbos, and if so, won't it go sour? I was thinking of doing meatballs and rice or potatoes, but don't want everyone to get food poisoning from stuff that's been standing out since 4pm the day before.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. If you are Ashkenazi and do not follow the Israeli Rabbanut, you can't reheat wet food on the blech on Shabbos. If you wanted to put meatballs with any sort of sauce on the blech, it'd have to be there from before Shabbos starts, and I don't see why this would be any sort of improvement over the crock pot.

    7 Replies
    1. re: GilaB

      I don't think the blech is the right way to serve hot meatballs for lunch.

      A caterer for our shul uses some type of professional warming closet. I don't know what degree the meatballs are set at, but it works.

      I have also noticed that his meatballs are bigger. The real question is what would happen if you left the meatballs in the oven (in a LOT of sauce) at whatever the correct temperature is from before candlighting. Is 180 okay? How about 200?

      1. re: vallevin

        My understanding of the halacha is that on Shabbos you can't open and close an oven that is on. This is why the Sabbath feature of many ovens is that it allows the oven to be on for a while, but turns it off before you are going to open it. I don't think it will let you set it for more than 12 hours, though. We frequently use it for Friday nights.

        As for meatballs, I leave them on the blech all the time, in a decent amount of sauce. I make my meatballs pretty small (about an inch and a quarter in diameter), and they are always tasty, appropriately moist, and hot enough that they are safe.

        1. re: queenscook

          Our oven solution is the opposite, i.e. our electric has two buttons, one to indicate when the oven is actually heating and one, just off an on. Since the issue is not turning on or off the oven, we've been advised that if both buttons are on, we can open the oven, since opening won't cause it to turn off and the element is already heating. We actually do this rarely. Usually, we just keep the oven on until right before candle lighting and then turn it off. Because we have some very heat retentive pots, the food stays hot, even though it usually is at least an hour before we serve.

            1. re: vallevin

              The so-called "unblech," also called a "kedeira blech." I never liked the more standard blech.

          1. re: vallevin

            180-200 degrees is generally the prime targeted oven/warmer temp for most of my Shabbat catering offerings. I second vallevin's meatball suggestion..bigger is better when it come to overnight cooked meatballs. Try adding shredded apple to you your meat mixture a trick i learned many years ago from one of the UES's most phenomenal cooks, a woman I consider a culinary Rebbi of mine. Raisins, craizins, currents, etc... also work wonderfully in helping keeping your meatballs from turning into dried monkey testicles.

            1. re: gotcholent

              That was a difficult analogy to read at 8:30 on a Sunday Morning/New Year's Day/Post 10 year old Girl's Sleepover...but I always appreciate your insights.

          1. I have the same type of blech. It's rather slow in heating food, but nothing dries out. For serving on Friday nights, I heat the food in the oven and turn the oven off right before Shabbat starts. I transfer the food to the blech and leave it there so that it'll stay warm till dinner. This works best when Shabbat starts closer to dinner time. In the winter, I put the food on the blech about an hour or so before dinner.

            For Saturday lunch, I take the food out of the fridge in the morning so that it's not freezing cold. I put the food on about an hour to two hours before lunch, rotating everything every so often.

            The middle of the blech gets the hottest. Dense food (mashed potatoes) takes much longer to heat than food that's lightly packed (rice). It helps to stir the food (if it can be stirred) to heat it evenly.

            1. Normally I would agree about the crock pot, but I just couldn't resist buying one of those 3 section crock pots from Bed Bath and Beyond, and I used it this past Shabbos. It seems not to get as hot on the low setting as the crock pot I normally use for chulent. I put soup in it that was mostly cooked. It was one of those minestrone soups that comes in those long packages from Kedem, but I also cooked up lots of meat bones for an hour before adding the soup and a lot of fresh onions and carrots. I was afraid that all the barley and split peas in the soup would get way over cooked and be more like chulent, but i was very pleasantly surprised. it was just right.
              I think the difference may be that these 3-pot appliances have a small open spout to be used as a spoon rest. People rail against this feature because it let's in outside air (check out Amazon.com) but I think it keeps the food in the pot from overcooking.

              1. I have a friend who manually spliced a dimmer onto his crockpot cord. He then used a candy thermometer to find the correct setting so that his crockpot sits at 170 degrees. He can now hold his food at 170 degrees without overcooking anything.

                1 Reply
                1. re: avitrek

                  Some crockpots have a warning not to use an extension cord. I am wondering if a dimmer switch would be a safety issue.

                  When I was growing up, everyone had a Shabbos hotplate. There was no on-and-off switch, and no knob to adjust the temperature. They cannot have been that hot as they were left on all night and all day.

                  While you could take a regular hotplate, and cover the knob to prevent someone from adjusting it on Shabbos, I don't know what the low setting would be.