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Your most unusual cholent ingredienr?

  • m

I make a vegetarian cholent with the usual suspects, and add extras like seitan cubes, veggie dogs, tofu, pieces of veggie burgers, whatever we have. I'm always looking for something unusual to add to it, like the oatmeal I started using a few years ago hecause I figured it would thicken it and add fiber.

This week we are thinking o f adding beer and some new veggies, like maybe a parsnip or celery root. What do you add to cholent that's unique or that takes it from merely good to over the top delicious?

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  1. My bobbe's cholent was vegetarian, and she used to put prunes in it to give it a vaguely meaty flavour.

    1 Reply
    1. re: zsero

      I second the prunes. I used to buy the best veggie chulent at a monthly street fair on Emek Refaim. There was a mystery ingredient that had a meat flavor and texture. When the lady told me it was prunes, I really didn't believe her at first.

      Also, sun-dried tomatoes, in oil or not, add wonderful flavor. A little goes a long way.

    2. beer and pepsi are always very popular add ins, i splurge on expensive meat and will sometimes add in veal ribs or veal sausages. i'll usually start off the cholent by rendering out some beef fry - i find that it adds a really nice smoky flavor. in a pinch, though, i will use liquid smoke.

      1. Here are the not-so-normal fixins in my usual cholent:

        * Jack's Gourmet Mexican Chorizo
        * Matzo Meal (hat tip to Ari W.), which I put on top of the liquid and before 1/2 of the chorizo and the kishke
        * 2 bottles of beer + Dr. Pepper for the rest
        * Lentils
        * a handful of Quinoa (also thanks to Ari W.)
        * Lamb (though I'd love tips for a cut I should seek out that isn't so boney)

        2 Replies
        1. re: tamarw

          No reason to run from bones. My usual chulent includes marrow bones as extra bones. Remember, bones are what you use for stock. By including bones you're effectively making a stock in your crock pot rather than having to pour in stock as your liquid.

          1. re: avitrek

            Agreed for flanken (which I use all the time) but not with lamb, because lamb has so many piece-y bones that it can be a dangerous surprise. I don't want anyone to choke on my account.

        2. It's not for me to say, but my take on the OP's question was that she was asking about veggie cholent.

          2 Replies
          1. re: queenscook

            I'm actually notsyre that I mwpeant to specify only veggie cholent, though that's what will give me the most help. Hearing about the meat, though, I still might be able to take away a dew ideas.

            I'm intrigued by some of the above ideas, including the matza meal and soda. Definitely going to try the prunes this week, but as for the Dr Pepper, do you use regular or would diet work?
            Looking forward to Shabbos! :)

            1. re: Miri1

              Any Dr. P works well, its the only soda with a real umami kick. For my wife's veggy cholent, we use pitted dates that soak overnight in coffee. The result after cooking overnight is a faux sausage with a very beef like texture. Make sure when make a veg cholent that you add in some time of oil to make up for what would normally be kicked in by the meat ingredients. Otherwise I've found that you cholents will dry out and resemble sludge.

          2. haha, i use all the pardes leftovers(sliced tongue, braised bacon etc)..... curry powder, beans, onions & garlic. one of my kids is a vegetarian so i put the jachnoon on the side & make schug for it. i realize this doesnt benefit you at all as a vegetarian. sorry. i will give you my secret though. i dont use a blech or a crockpot, i set my oven to 175 & put all my ingredients in cold or frozen, in a tightly sealed pan. except for cooked beans. and i use very little liquid. sometimes none.

            1. Maple syrup (just a little), replacing some of the water with vegatable stock, zaatar seasoning

              1. Wheat berries can work nicely, and are traditional in some Sephardi variants.

                If we're talking vegetarian (but not vegan), then eggs can be really nice one they've cooked in the cholent for a while.

                1. Molasses.
                  Quinoa, soaked with the dried beans.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: CloggieGirl

                    All of these new ideas are making me wish Shabbos would get here already! Going to give sone a try over the next few weeks!

                    1. re: CloggieGirl

                      Ditto molasses. Gives it a great flavor.

                    2. I always use a little liquid smoke, some brown sugar, some coca cola, prunes, a variety of root vegetables (parsnip, sweet potato, carrots, butternut squash, rutabaga, beets, etc.). mushrooms, soy sauce, garlic powder, pepper, salt, Osem beef soup powder (parve), as this increases the meaty flavor, Osem onion soup powder, a ton of fried onions, garlic, paprika, onion powder, bbq sauce, ketchup, beans, barley, potatoes, some veggie franks or sausages, and at Pesach, we follow the same recipe, except we use quinoa in lieu of barley and we omit the veggie meat and increase the root veggies and mushrooms. Also, there's a secret ingedient: anchovies. As weird as it may sound, anchovies impart an umami, or meaty flavor. Anchovies actually have the same beefy flavor peptides as meat, and these amino acids improve the beefy flavor of any dish.

                      We also put in little matzo balls made from charred WW matzah, as well as a parve kishka on top.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: tractarian

                        My husband once used the leftover water after he cooked corned beef in the chulent. Gave it a great taste.

                        1. re: kosherfoodie1226

                          Ok, so since I'm in a hotel and limited in how many extra ingredients I can buy (not enough storage space etc) we're doing the choeny with the Dr. Pepper and prunes. I have lots of seasonings and soup mix. No quinoa, but we have barley and some veggie meat, don't recall what my sister bought. I'll report back after Shabbos, but I'm betting it will be delicious.

                      2. I put sriracha sauce in my cholent this week. Not sure it did much to enhance the flavor and add much heat, because I had other spice (cayenne pepper, the chorizo sausage), but it's worth trying as a standalone!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: tamarw

                          Dr Pepper and prunes didn't do much. Ah well, next week we'll try something else.

                        2. one jalepeno pepper
                          lots of paprika

                          Just before shabbos, place eggs on top of cholent. (in the shell, wash well first) The resulting hard boiled eggs have a great meaty flavor. Mash with chopped liver or make egg salad with them.

                          Another idea is to place cooked potato kugel on top and let it cook all night. yum.

                          1. My dad taught me to put in honey, also (this isn't vegetarian, but it is very good) turkey kabanos are very good, and add a nice kick

                            1. Last week I made cholent for the first time ever, following Ari from Got Cholent's "Texas Cholent" recipe (with some modifications). I used Chipotle Chile powder (in a small glass jar from McCormick). It added a really nice smoky flavor and a subtle kick of heat. Not particularly unusual, but I recommend giving it a try!

                              1. Paprika and cayenne aren't unusual additions. What's unusual (and what you need to do) is to put so much of it so that your cholent is ruby red. Not only will it stand out (typical cholent looks old and unappealing) but you'll know it will be spicy enough even after hours of cooking.

                                1. In Atlanta, I remember having had grits in the cholent, which shows probably any starch will work.

                                  Parsley roots are good, and have a more intense flavor than parsley leaves.

                                  I have not had much luck with using veggie meat substitutes in cholent. The long cooking leaves the fake meat flavorless.

                                  Dried apricots, dates and raisins are great additions. Prunes will darken the cholent, and some people may find that less appetizing. If you do use dates, keep in mind that they will sweeten the cholent, so cut back on any other sweeteners you might normally be adding.

                                  When you use prunes, consider cutting them in half or in thirds with kitchen scissors as this will help disperse them throughout the cholent.

                                  Powdered ginger and ground cloves are also interesting additions. If small children will be present, you may have to have two pots of cholent laid out to please less adventurous eaters.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Dovid

                                    We are traditionalists and keep to a very simple Hungarian cholent: beans, barley, onions, garlic, beef chunks and dark meat poultry (chicken or turkey thighs, usually). However, because pre-smoked meat is harder to find, we now use liquid smoke.