Saturday, January 8, 2011

Mission Chulent: Week 7

It was a close call. I almost let you down this week. 58 minutes before Shabbos, I had ONE chulent (a.k.a. cholent) bubbling on the stove, and it was one which I blogged about three weeks ago. It was a busy week at work and home, and I just didn't get my act together to buy the ingredients for a new chulent.

Then I thought of you, my loyal followers, and the adrenaline kicked in. I pictured you rushing to my blog right after havdalah, eager to read my latest recipe and start shopping for next week's chulent. I imagined all those disappointed faces, devastated by my betrayal. I just couldn't let you down!

In high gear, I scrambled to think of a recipe that would cook up quickly and would use only ingredients I had in the pantry/fridge. I had come across a very non-traditional chulent recipe from thirschfeld on Food52.com. It had fast-cooking lentils instead of the usual beans, so I knew it had enough time to cook up before sundown. I thought I had most of the ingredients in the house, and with almost an hour till Shabbos, I figured I would throw it together.

I ended up improvising quite a bit. With [tick, tick, tick] 52 minutes left till Shabbos, I couldn't saute or caramelize or do anything at all fancy. To be perfectly frank here, I just threw everything in a pot, put it on a super high flame, and hoped for the best.

And guess what? It was GOOD. Fantastic rich flavors. Wonderful aromas. A real keeper. This one is making it to our favorites list, along with Esther Shemtob's Hamin and - but of course - my mother's meat chulent. The best part of all was that I made it less than an hour before Shabbos. This is a great backup recipe if you're ever running late putting up your chulent.

Indian Style Chulent with Lentils, inspired by thirschfeld's recipe
I made this chulent with chicken, as instructed in the original recipe, and it was FANTASTIC. But I think it would be wonderful with lamb or turkey instead. I'd like to try it vegetarian too. I suspect that the spicing will add enough interest to make up for the lack of meat. I would recommend making this chulent just a few hours before Shabbos. The lentils don't need a long cooking time like other chulent beans do. (You don't have to cut it as close as I did, though. I am still recovering....)


4 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
3 carrots, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 celery stalks, cleaned, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped coarse
2 russet or yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 cup brown or black lentils (I used small black Beluga lentils and they really retained their shape)
1 cup brown rice
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin 
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup dry white wine

Put everything into a nice large pot or crock pot, in the order listed. Add water to cover. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low. Leave the chulent simmering on low until Shabbos morning, or until you're ready to eat, at least 10 hours. Serve hot.

8 comments:

  1. Sounds amazing. I'm going to have to try it soon. I generally make a different cholent every week depending on what I have in the kitchen. This week I decided to make chili instead. A bit nontraditional but really delicious.

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  2. Thanks, Rochel. We love chili, and I often make it during the week. I would have never thought to try it as chulent, but that's a great idea!

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  3. Oh, this sounds really really good. I am going to try it vegetarian-style this week. Thanks for not letting down your loyal readers! BTW, I made jachnun (inspired by you)--although I have to confess that I just bought the frozen and stuck it along with some eggs in a tin on top of the cholent. It was FANTASTIC. Like a cross between strudel, borekas, and Yerushalmi kugel (the same caramelized flavor). Next time, I will try sticking in directly on top of the cholent.
    And thanks for your nice comments!!

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  4. Thanks for stopping by Laura. Where can I find frozen jachnun? I have never seen it....
    I would love to hear how the vegetarian version of this recipe turns out. Please do let me know!

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  5. Frozen Jachnun is sold by my kosher butcher (Sabra brand). Look near the frozen borekas . . . .
    I made the cholent vegetarian, using wheat bulghur instead of rice. Very good!

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  6. I will have to see if my butcher or kosher supermarket carry the frozen Jachnun. Thank you!!!

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  7. I made a double recipe of the Indian lentil chulent for dinner last night. The house smelled great. Didn't have cardamom, so I substituted equal parts nutmeg and ground cloves. I wasn't sure everyone would go for the new flavors, but the final verdict was 5 "love its" to 3 complainers, so this is a keeper. The only time *everyone* loves dinner is when it's Chinese takeout. ;)

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  8. Nechama: thanks for letting me know. I'm glad it was successful. Innovative substitute for the cardamom!

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