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Cholent

I can recall the crockpot sitting inconspicuously on the counter; the kitchen was dark, though we all gathered around waiting to eat.  From the pot, our dear friend ladled a thick, brown substance into our bowls.  “It’s Cholent,” he explained, and I was dubious.  Yet the first bite of that earthy stew etched itself into my memory, fueling a longing unfulfilled until tonight.  A slow-cooked stew traditionally prepared the night before Shabbat, Cholent involves a hefty bit of beans, barley, potatoes, and typically, meat.  The dish has a reputation for both heaviness and mush.  I cannot deny the stuff in my bowl that night proved both points, and still I loved every soft, melting mouthful.  Years passed, though I never knew anyone to cook it again.  Tonight, I reprised the meal on a whim – inspired just a bit by the past few days of slow cooking split pea soup and a spring vegetable tagine.  The vegetarian Cholent recipe I found online is heavy with carbs, but that is true even for a traditional recipe.  There are onions, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, and lots and lots of garlic.  I also included 1/2 cup of barley and 1/2 cup of faro, as well as red beans and chickpeas.  Spiced simply with several bay leaves, coriander, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper and left to cook all day in the crockpot, the flavors begin to develop and become irresistible.  The best bit is when you get a bite of garlic, and it tastes just like it has been roasted in the oven — really creamy and mellow.  What am I doing eating such heavy food at the end of May in Florida?  Only Nigella Lawson may truly understand: sometimes comfort is king.  We ate two large bowlfuls each accompanied with a small glass of red wine, and we feel pleasantly sleepy and satisfied.  Even better, we have plenty of leftovers for tomorrow.

Bete’avon!

W.

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One thought on “Cholent

  1. LOL, Nigella is a wise woman.

    Besides, you know as well as I do that seasonal rules don’t apply in Florida. We don’t really have seasons, so we can eat and dress however we like (well, for clothes, it all depends on the AC. I dress for winter at my office, but then fry when I step outside, haha).

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