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January 31, 2003 - Image 79

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-01-31

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Food

Pho to by An nabe l Cohen

A Culinary
Tradition

That long, slow, tender taste of Shabbat.

ANNABEL COHEN

Special to the Jewish News

T

he first time I tried
cholent, I had no idea I
was partaking in an age-
old Shabbat custom.
In 1982 while traveling in Europe, I
met an American-born rabbi going
home to Amsterdam. He invited me
and my friend Lisa to Shabbat servic-
es — and lunch — with his family.
After services, we walked back to
his house where we ate a thick stew
with meat, potatoes and beans —
cholent.
Cholent (pronounced "cholnt" or
"choolnt") can be made from most
any foods, and the technique, not the
ingredients, define the dish. And
though there are many theories
regarding where the word "cholent"
originated, the most widely accepted
is that it's a contraction of the French
words chaud (pronounced "show'),
which means "hot," and lent (pro-
nounced "lawnt"), which means
"slow."
Prepared universally, other
European and Middle Eastern cul-
tures have different names for this
Shabbat staple, including dafina and
hamin. The recipes below are just a
few of the countless variations.
Whatever you call it, the theory is
the same. Since cooking is prohibited
on Shabbat, yet a hot meal is called
for, Jewish cooks would often com-
bine ingredients in a pot or crockery
vessel (usually the same one each
week) and take it to a local, non-
Jewish bakery or community oven.
The pots would be sealed (usually
with a paste made from flour and
water), tamperproof, and cooked
slowly in warm ovens (bread baking
was finished by early morning and
ovens kept warm all the time)
overnight.
When the pots were opened on
Shabbat, the fragrant stew inside
would be tender and ready to eat.
Today this is easily done in an oven at
low-heat or in a slow cooker.

SIMPLE ASHKENAZI-
STYLE CHOLENT
3-4 pounds beef brisket
3 T. vegetable oil
4 cups chopped onions
2 t. minced garlic
2 cups dried lima beans, soaked
overnight in water and drained
1 cup dry pearl barley
8 large or 12 small red skin pota-
toes, halved
2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. coarse ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
4 T. tomato paste
Boiling water
Preheat oven to 450F.
Place brisket in a large baking dish
and cook, uncovered, until the top is
very brown. Turn the beef over and
repeat.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pot
over medium-high heat. Add the
onions and garlic and cook, stirring
frequently, until the onions are soft-
ened.
Remove from heat and lay the beef
directly on top of the onions. Sprinkle
the soaked beans and barley around
the beef. Arrange the potatoes around
the beef. Sprinkle the salt and pepper
over the meat and potatoes.
Combine 1 cup of boiling water
with the tomato paste in a small bowl
and whisk well. Pour this over the beef.
Add enough boiling water to just cover
the beef,
Cover the pot and place it directly
into a preheated 250.F. oven (don't
worry if the handles of your pot are
not metal, the low heat should have no
effect on them).
Cook the cholent 12-24 hours.
Adjust seasonings and serve the
cholent right out of the pot. Makes 8
large servings.

VEGETARIAN CHOLENT
3 T. olive oil
3 cups chopped onions
2 t. minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup dry great northern beans,
soaked overnight in water and

drained
1/2 cup dry split peas
1 cup dried lima beans,
1/2 cup barley
3 cups peeled sweet potato in 1 1/2-
inch chunks
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes in
juice
2 t. kosher salt
1/2' t. ground pepper
Boiling water
Preheat oven to 225F.
Heat oil in large pot over meditim-
high heat. Add onions, garlic and cel-
ery and cook, stirring frequently, for 5
minutes. Add the beans, split peas,
lima beans, barley, sweet potatoes,
tomatoes with liquid, salt and pepper
and stir.
Add enough boiling water to cover
the ingredients by an inch. Cover the
pot and place in the oven. Cook for 20
hours or more. Makes 8 servings.

DAFINA
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef or
lamb, chilled
2 large eggs
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 T. sugar
1/2 cup chopped onions, plus 1 1/2
cups chopped onions
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 T. dried parsley
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. ground black pepper
2 cups uncooked long grain rice
2 T. olive oil
2 t. minced garlic

3 pounds beef brisket
1 cup dry chickpeas, soaked
overnight in water and drained
6 cups sweet potato in 1 1/2-inch
chunks
8 whole pitted dates
1/4 cup golden raisins
salt and pepper to taste
2 t. turmeric
8 large 'eggs (whole)
water
Preheat oven to 250E
Combine beef, 2 eggs, breadcrumbs,
sugar, 1 /2-cup onions, cinnamon, pars-
ley, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Use
a spoon or your hands to mix well.
Form this mixture into a ball and flat-
ten slightly. Wrap the mixture in a foil
packet. Set aside.
Cut two pieces of cheesecloth into
10-inch lengths and lay one on top of
the other. Toss the rice with the olive oil
and pour the uncooked rice into the
center of the cloth and gather the top to
form a packet (the packet must be loose
around the rice since the rice will dou-
ble in volume when cooked). Tie the
top of the packet with string. Set aside.
In a large pan or casserole dish,
sprinkle the remaining onions and gar-
lic. Place the brisket over the onions.
Sprinkle the chickpeas, sweet potatoes,
dates and raisins, salt, pepper and
turmeric around the beef.
Place the meat package next to the
beef and the rice bundle on the
other side of the beef. Place the
whole eggs in any remaining spaces.

A CULINARY TRADITION on page 80.

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2003

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