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forward thinking cholent recipes

there is not much more old school hymish than cholent what does everybody think we can add to our cholent to jazz it up and make it more modern? looking for easy home ideas.

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  1. All I can offer here is the Cuban-style cholent I tried to make a few years ago. I will not repeat that mistake again.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rockycat

      I've done Cuban-style pretty successfully. More of a black-bean stew than a cholent. We smoke our own short ribs and add to the mix. Great served with rice.

    2. Take out the potatoes. Add chili powder.

      1. As per my post above we do a fair amount of smoking. In addition to smoked short ribs, smoked turkey legs add a nice kick to a regular cholent. Also there's been a resurgence in Kosher sausage varieties recently, many of which will add flavor and variety to cholent. Neshama has a couple of beef & lamb sausages that you can add to any recipe in large chunks. The Jack's are okay but they are more like flavored hot dogs than true sausage. In Chicago we are lucky enough to have some good sausage options from Romanian.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ferret

          Smoked turkey thigh is even better in cholent.

        2. People dont vary their recipe much after they perfect their blend, but there are little things that you could do.
          1. Add Marrow Bones if you dont already. Alternatively you could also use ribs,they impart a different more beefy flavor.
          2. Change up the spices. Keep the base (garlic, chopped onion, paprika, chili powder), and add curry / cumin / mustard seed / and a drop of ground red pepper.
          3. A little sweetness is good to offset the chili, I started using light brown sugar, it has a deeper flavor than other sugars.

          1. Ugh, that reminds me. I am having the NCSY crowd over for oneg Friday night. That means I need to put my cholent up tonight so it will be ready by 9 pm. It's an NCSY thing. Personally the thought of eating cholent for dessert sounds revolting.

            14 Replies
            1. re: SoCal Mother

              I find the thought of eating most cholent revolting. But that's a personal thing. :-)

              Good luck with the horde.

              1. re: rockycat

                It's 7 am. I am getting dressed for work and getting my son up for school and MY WHOLE HOUSE SMELLS OF CHOLENT. That's just plain weird.

                PS To CW Silverberg, I am sorry for hijacking your thread. I really do make very good cholent, just not very "forward thinking." My trick is to add much more water than most folks would do and then run the crockpot on high. Otherwise it's just the usual blend of potatoes, short ribs, onions, barley, (optional) red beans and lots of cumin. To serve it for NCSY, start it Thursday evening...

                1. re: SoCal Mother

                  thanks for keeping the post going this is great, but im looking for more forward thinking like a lamb curry/coconut milk based cholent. how well would it stand up in a crockpot cokking on low for twenty hours? any other ideas?

                  1. re: cwsilverberg

                    How about a tagine with the couscous already in there?

                    1. re: cwsilverberg

                      I have never tried to do a coconut based cholent but these are the things I would look out for:
                      Coconut milk does not do well when cooked with other fats or acids. they wont emulsify so the sauce might look separated. I wouldnt use a marrow bone or kishka when making this cholent. It also doesnt do well with long cooking periods. You might have to add a little more at the end to brighten the dish, in color and flavor.
                      I would use coconut milk in the liquid as a component, maybe supplement it with water, stock, etc, keeping in mind i will add a little coconut milk at the end. Any citrus zest, lemongrass, ginger (not too much, spicy) etc will go well with the coconut.
                      With regard to a forward thinking cholent as a topic, while I am a slave to the classic when it comes to cholent ( I like a creamy barlye based cholent, low and slow, no cumin..ugh), using a different grain besides barley such as quinoia or maybe a wheatberry feels like the way to go. The liquid needs far all grains will be different, just make sure it is nice and creamy.

                      1. re: KosherChef

                        Had a Rebbe growing up who, being ahead of his time, served a "deconstructed" cholent, with only the meat and potatoes cooked together overnight and the barley, beans and other mix-ins served in separate bowls at the table, so everyone could set their own proportions. No reason you couldn't employ this methodology to more unconventional preparations.

                        1. re: ferret

                          We sometimes replace the beef with lamb neck bones. Comes out great. We also dont use any beans as my wife is allergic, so its barley, potatoes and onions, and whatever seasoning my wife puts in.

                          1. re: ferret

                            I don't think this approach works for cholent. The point of cholent and other stews is to use a small amount of meat to flavor the beans/barley that provide the substance. If you cook the beans and barley separately you lose that.

                            1. re: avitrek

                              It works very well. You don't just make a bland pot of barley, it's seasoned during cooking and the cholent mixture does have a "gravy" of sorts.

                            2. re: ferret

                              Wow, I never considered myself as a forward-thinking cook before, but apparently I've been making a "deconstructed" cholent forever (probably over 45 years). I concocted this method to accomodate members of my family that didn't like one or another ingredient (mainly beans).
                              For the bottom layer, I divide the bottom of the pot in half - pre-soaked lima beans on one half, barley on the other. Next layer, is seasoned flanken (salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika), then diced onions - mixed with some flour, salt & pepper. On top of this go the potatoes, seasoned like the meat, covered with more of the onion-flour mixture.
                              Add water around the edges of the pot, to around 1 inch below the top of the potatoes. Bring to a full boil on high, then switch to low setting.
                              To serve - carefully put the potatoes, meat, barley and beans each in separate bowls.

                              1. re: ferret

                                That is like Moroccan style. I had that at my friend for Shabbos as he and his wife are Moroccan. I think it was made with rice, not barley. Each component is wrapped in a cheesecloth bag and all the bags are placed together in one pot.

                              2. re: KosherChef

                                Kosherchef: All you need is a pad thai kugel to go with it!

                                1. re: mamaleh

                                  Do you have a recipe for that or just making a joke? It would finally be a noodle kugel I'd want to eat. I don't like the sweet or peppery ones.

                                  1. re: CloggieGirl

                                    Totally serious, but I haven't tried a recipe yet. Got to thinking it would make a fun Shabbat dinner after a great meal at Beverley Hills Thai. Started to google some, and looks like there are some recipes out there.

                          1. re: PotatoPuff

                            Oddly, doesn't do it for me - too sweet. Other root vegetables work, though, I posted on another thread about this wonderful roasted root vegetable goulash I ate which really was an eye-opener. Beets, turnips, parsnips and celery root do have an appreciable sweetness when cubed and roasted (with some added visual appeal).

                            1. re: ferret

                              Love the deconstructed idea. That's a little hip. I want to stop a moment to say, Wow, I'll bet our Bubbies and Zaidies back in Europe (or whichever part of the world we are from) as they shlepped their Cholent pot over to the communal oven/fire (as my Bahby described) would never dream of this scene. A bunch of yuppies/foodies sitting over an IPAD musing about how to make a "forward-thinking" cholent in our granite kitchens equipped with Shabbos mode ovens (not my kitchen, btw). Unbelievable.

                              1. re: cappucino

                                Sephardic Jews put ingredients for chulent in cheesecloth bags that are then cooked in the same pot with the meat (i.e. rice, barley, etc.) and of course eggs. They have been doing this forever. And it is yummny

                          2. I think that I prefer the term "Sideways thinking" to your forward thinking CW. Yidden all over the world have been making cholent/hameen based on their local available proteins, spices and veg. Imagine yourself in another part of the world and then make the adaptations. Here are a couple of ideas from my own vault:

                            French "Chaud-Lent" Cassolet with duck and veal sausage

                            Irish Schleppers Pie (add a bit more water/broth then usual and top with your fav Potato Kugel Mix on top) It looks like a kugel until you cut into it and the meaty goodness shows itself. Always a crowd-pleaser!

                            Lamb Tagine

                            Texas Smokehouse Chili Style

                            Tuscan Stufatto (Fat Stew) with over-sized heavily spiced meatballs, white beans and roma tomatoes

                            For work we prepare 18 types of cholent from around the world. With that said the possible variations are infinite....have fun with it.

                            12 Replies
                            1. re: gotcholent

                              Gotcholent, that irish pie sounds yummy! Can you please give a more idiot-proof recipe?

                              1. re: SoCal Mother

                                SoCal, generally I am not shy on these threads with my recipes, but this is not one that I can share. I import Marmite from South America (under the LBD) and use it and Guinness along with lamb and veal for an incredibly assertive base (beef cheek, short ribs, 2nd cut brisket or deckle would all work as well). I would suggest combing through any of the Sheppard's pie recipes here on CHOW, same with the Potato kugel and marry the two in your oven at 200 overnight or in your crockpot for Shabbas. The best advise I can give is to give a good browning to your meats and reserve the fats for the cholent, and to add about 15% more liquid then you normally would to allow for the overnight cook. This combo won me my first Cholent throwdown against a handfull of tough competitors including Jeffery Nathan a few years back and is a winter slam dunk for your guest as it comes to the table looking like an innocent Potato Kugel and then offers up it's heady goodness to the first wise enough to dig in.

                                1. re: gotcholent

                                  Gotcholent... Can you help? Just bought a crock pot and I want to attempt cholent this weekend. The only cholent I know is the burnt potato heavy stuff we've eaten at a kiddush. Something simple! And not a crazy amount, as we're only 3 people.

                                  1. re: cheesecake17

                                    You can't do cholent for 3 people. My wife (militant vegetarian...go figure) wanted her own, so we bought the 2qt size. Anything that small can't handle an 18hr cook. Invite more friends, use short ribs, flanken or 2nd cut brisket and play with what's in your fridge. I could wax philosophic on cholent techniques till the cows come home.

                                    1. re: cheesecake17

                                      Simple cholent: 5-6 potatoes peeled and cut in 8ths, two cut up onions, half cup barley (resist the temptation to add more, ) half cup of uncooked red beans. Four strips of flanken (that means beef ribs cut across the bone so the marrow shows, NOT the BBQ ribs direction. Same meat though.) Cut it up a bit. If you are just using it for flavor only put in two strips, if you are feeding teenage boys, leave something else out and add more meat.

                                      Mix everything up into a large crockpot with the spices you like. I do cumin, my husband puts in pepper and a few bay leaves.

                                      Our secret trick: fill the rest of the pot with lots of water and cook on high. We like our cholent really mushy.

                                      1. re: SoCal Mother

                                        Thanks, will try this. I've bought flanken before, but could I use short ribs? Would white beans work?

                                        1. re: cheesecake17

                                          I dont know the names of cuts of meat. I have always called it flanken, but it's the cut you make BBQ ribs with, just cut in the other direction so the marrow is exposed. Our Ralphs calls it short ribs.

                                          As far as white beans, if you like them, why noy? I dont always bother with beans.

                                          1. re: cheesecake17

                                            Short ribs are short ribs. The standard cut exposes less of the marrow, the flanken cut provides greater surface area. Either way it's the same meat/bones it just incorporates differently depending on the cut.

                                            1. re: ferret

                                              Hopefully will try this weekend

                                      2. re: gotcholent

                                        That's ok, i don't do complicated recipes. I don't like the fuss and my family won't eat it.

                                        I thought shepherd pie was hamburger and onions baked with mashed potatoes. ( you meant South Africa for the Marmite, didn't you?)

                                    2. re: gotcholent

                                      The Irish one sounds fantastic. Basically a big shepherds pie in a slow cooker! That would be a great break from my usual cholents.

                                      I am a big fan of parsnips and celery root in cholent. They add fantastic savory and sweet elements.

                                      1. re: gotcholent


                                        This is the most feste geshmake menu I have ever seen!

                                        One correction...I think you meant to say etymological, not entomological.

                                      2. I just came up with an idea for asian cholent. I am thinking of one of my favorite chinese dishes, red cooked beef.
                                        -daikon instead of potatoes
                                        -usual suspects (ribs, barley, onion, etc)
                                        -fresh ginger and garlic cloves
                                        -hoisin sauce and thai sweet chili sauce and some sriracha

                                        1. i have updated my cholent, but most would consider it a stew, so i'm not sure it helps you. first, I got rid of the barley completely. I use a wider variety of dry beans and root veg, I add red pepper and purple cabbage for color, etc. http://i.imgur.com/9G8PNQj.jpg