Those of you who are unfamiliar with cholent (sometimes rendered as tcholent or chulent) have missed out on one of the great contributions of Eastern European Jewry to world gastronomy.
Cholent can be described as a bean stew, but to do so is as inadequate as calling the great French dish cassoulet “pork and beans.”
Traditionally, cholent was the quintessential “Shabbos food.” Because observant Jews would not cook or kindle fire on the Sabbath, the cholent would be placed in a slow oven before sundown on Friday, so that it could cook slowly during the night and be steaming, fragrant, and ready to serve when worshipers returned from morning services.
We’re in Foat Wuth right now, at the home of the Momma d’SWMBO, where SWMBO’s brother Aaron has cranked out an unusual twist on cholent: one that uses garbanzo beans and barley rather than the more traditional mix of kidney, Northern, cannelli, and/or cranberry beans. Mainly because that’s all that was in the house. The addition of Tony Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning adds a Southern Louisiana kick.
Here’s the recipe:
Aaron’s Cajun Cholent
Quantities (extremely) approximate. In a crock pot, throw in:
1/2 lb inexpensive cuts of beef - mock tenders or flanken
1/2 lb potatoes - one medium Idaho Russet or a handful of small Yukon Golds, cut into chunks
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 can chickpeas (garbanzos)
1 can tomato sauce
2 tsp garlic powder, or a few cloves of minced fresh garlic
Add enough water to cover about 2" above the mixture. Then, sprinkle in ~2 tbsp Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste (with the Tony Chachere’s in there, you probably don’t need salt, but a few grinds of pepper never hurt).
Cook on high for one hour, then turn down to the lowest setting and let cook s-l-o-w-l-y overnight. Serve with sour pickles and challah bread. Yummers!
WARNING: Consumption of excessive quantities of cholent may be accompanied by flatulence that, in a few notable cases, can be extreme in both Volume and Toxicity to Adjacent Life-Forms. You have been warned.