Beef, Bean and Barley Stew – Cholent

Several Mother’s Days’ ago, my husband announced he was making Cholent for dinner.  “Chew what?” was my reply.  He said, “You know, Cholent (pronounced tshoolnt).”  Well, actually I didn’t know and I really didn’t know what he was talking about.

It turns out, it’s now one of my favorite meals, especially during the winter months.

Cholent is a very traditional Jewish stew, usually simmered overnight.  It’s served for lunch the next day, normally on the Sabbath.  This was a meal developed in order to conform with religious laws prohibiting them from working on their day of rest.

In our household, we make Cholent all the time, any day of the week and usually for dinner.  It is so, so good.  I cannot tell you how wonderful all the simmering time is for this meal.  The flavors of the ingredients (which are not many) come together and make a really fantastic and hearty dish.

While Cholent is a very traditional recipe, it has many, many variations.  Potatoes are commonly added but we do not use them as they often break apart and don’t add a lot of the characteristic flavor we like.

I also could go on about how economical this meal is to make.  We often use stew meat which is usually an inexpensive and tougher cut.  However, after 12-14 hours of cooking, it falls apart.  The stew meat is already pre-cut which is nice as opposed to chuck roast which you would have to cut up yourself. 

Overall, it’s good.  Just really, really good and we enjoy it.  You should try it, you’d be surprised how these few simple ingredients come together and make magic.

A while back I saw part of a movie on television about a rabbi who was traveling on an airplane with a pot of Cholent on his lap.  He was taking it to someone’s house for dinner after he landed.  I really want to see the rest of that movie, does anyone know what it’s called? 

First, pick through (looking for tiny stones) pinto beans and rinse with water.

In a large pot, cover beans with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Turn off heat and let beans soak in water until you need them; do not stir.

In another large, heavy, oven proof pot (I use my Dutch oven), brown stew meat in vegetable oil over medium-high heat; about 3-5 minutes.  (Do not add meat to the pan until the pan is hot.  I often add only several pieces of meat at a time so I don’t cool off the pan too quickly.)  Once browned on all sides, remove the meat and set aside.

Add marrow bones to the pan and brown over medium-high heat; about five minutes.

Return the meat to the pan along with the marrow bones.  Halve an onion and place on top of the meat along with garlic.
 

Drain the beans from the water they were boiled in and add the beans on top of the meat and bone marrow mixture.  Fill the pot with just enough water to cover the beans (the onions do not need to be covered).  Add barley, salt and pepper.  Do Not Stir this mixture.  Cholent does not need to be stirred. 

Bring to a boil over medium heat, cover and place in a 200 degree oven for 2 hours.  After two hours add more water if needed just to cover the beans, cover and place back in the oven for another 10-12 hours.  Remove onion, garlic and bones before serving and salt to taste.  I usually end up adding more salt to the pot after I taste it.  However, it’s totally up to you to add as much or as little salt as you like.

I have cooked this over night and turned it off in the morning and turned it back on before dinner to warm it up.  It’s one of those meals you can’t ruin, just don’t stir it as it breaks up the beans. 

Sop up the liquid with bread, it is so filling, one bowl will often be enough to satisfy you.

This could not be any easier to make, try it.

Beef, Bean and Barley Stew – Cholent
Serves 4-6

2 cups pinto beans, dried
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1-1/2 pounds beef stew meat or chuck roast, cut into 2″ pieces
1 pound marrow bones
1 large onion, halved
1 large clove garlic, whole
1/2 cup pearled barley, dried
1 Tablespoon salt plus more for seasoning after cooking
2 teaspoons black pepper

First, pick through (looking for tiny stones) pinto beans and rinse with water.

In a large pot, cover beans with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Turn off heat and let beans soak in water until you need them; do not stir.

In another large, heavy, oven proof pot (I use my Dutch oven), brown stew meat in vegetable oil over medium-high heat; about 3-5 minutes.  (Do not add meat to the pan until the pan is hot.  I often add only several pieces of meat at a time so I don’t cool off the pan too quickly.)  Once browned on all sides, remove the meat and set aside.

Add marrow bones to the pan and brown over medium-high heat; about five minutes.

Return the meat to the pan along with the marrow bones.  Halve an onion and place on top of the meat along with garlic.

Drain the beans from the water they were boiled in and add the beans on top of the meat and bone marrow mixture.  Fill the pot with just enough water to cover the beans (the onions do not need to be covered).  Add barley, salt and pepper.  Do Not Stir this mixture.  Cholent does not need to be stirred. 

Bring to a boil over medium heat, cover and place in a 200 degree oven for 2 hours.  After two hours add more water if needed, just to cover the beans, cover and place back in the oven for another 10-12 hours.  Remove onion, garlic and bones before serving and salt to taste.  I usually end up adding more salt to the pot after I taste it.  However, it’s totally up to you to add as much or as little salt as you like.

I have cooked this over night and turned it off in the morning and turned it back on before dinner to warm it up.  It’s one of those meals you can’t ruin, just don’t stir it as it breaks up the beans. 

One Year Ago:  Double Ginger Crackles

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54 Comments

  1. HoneyB 1

    I’m thinking the flavor of this must be awesome. I am definitely making it – but will be using venison stew as that is what I have. The only thing I need is the bone marrow!

  2. Diane 2

    Mmm oh my that looks delicious! What a perfect looking dinner for a cold winter night! I do love stews casseroles. There’s just something so good about rich flavoursome sauces infused with meat and studded with beans. Heaven is a plate of stew and a lovely crusty bit of bread!

  3. pam 3

    I can’t believe I have never heard of this before. This has everything I like, and sounds amazing!

  4. It does sound tasty..I’d like to see that movie too.

  5. Helsie 5

    Mmmmmm.. that looks GREAT !
    Just the thing on a cold winter’s night. I’ll keep it in mind for Winter meals
    Thanks for sharing.

  6. What’s up with your site! It is black with a red Corvette on the top?

    The soup looks delicious, as always!!

  7. Cathy, as soon as I hit enter it flipped to the correct blog setup! CRAZY!!

  8. I don’t know what it is..maybe the extreme cold weather we are having, but I actually think I might make this for my husband even though I dislike those types of beans intensely…I think the scent of a pot of this in the house would alone comfort and fill me up!

  9. That would be perfect for us today with all the snow we are getting!

  10. Lydia 10

    This is one of my favorites, too. I remember my grandmother making huge pots of this on Friday night for Saturday lunch. They were quite religious, and my mother always worried about them leaving a pot on the stove overnight, but it always worked out just fine. Someone must have been looking out for them…..

  11. Julia 11

    Ah, yes. My BIL makes this every shabbas. He puts it in the crockpot on Friday afternoon, tucked away in a corner, by Shabbas lunch it’s perfect. I really like your addition of marrow bones… I’ll let him know!

  12. Tammy 12

    This does look perfect for these cold winter days!

  13. Barbie with a T 13

    Cathy, you have done it again. First of all, my husband will never ever eat boxed granola again. I toasted it yesterday afternoon, and he insisted on eating it for dinner! The aroma flowing from the kitchen got to him. lol Now, you can thank you husband for introducing you to Cholent. My husband and I just looked at your photos and read your recipe for the Cholent and it is a must that we prepare this meal. Your website is keeping us busy, going to the store to buy ingredients for your meals, and preparing them daily. I am going to make the Chai tea flavoring today too. With the chill in the air, hot tea is always comforting, and this seems like the perfect flavoring for the holiday season. By the way, we have even changed grocery stores in order to find everything that we need in one place. I Thanks to you I don’t have to go to that awful madhouse of a grocery store where I was previously shopping! I drink a lot more wine now, enjoy it more, now that I know more about wine. I still have a lot to learn, so keep on educating us about wine. Cathy, you are changing our lifestyle and we love it!! I think the West Coast, especially Oregon and Washington have the most interesting traits, and I plan on visiting there when you get the winery in operation. We have friends in Seattle to visit at the same time. I cannot thank you enough for your internet friendship. You are so talented.

  14. Oh my, this sounds so good, and perfect for this freezing weather. I love slow simmered dishes like this.

  15. I have never heard of this…and I want it now!

  16. Trisha 17

    This looks like a recipe easy enough for me to make! I might actually try this tonight.

  17. Stacza 18

    Kathy B. and others should know that they can still make cholent without using pinto beans or even without using meat! It’s incredibly versatile, just use whatever beans you like! My mom always makes it with a combination of pinto beans, white beans and kidney beans, it doesn’t matter as they all end up tasting like the sauce. Also, since I’m a vegetarian, my mom often makes cholent without meat instead just using more beans and some vegetarian sausage to add heartiness. Soyrizo is our favorite choice for veggie meat in cholent. When I was small I thought cholent was called “chomp” and that is a very fitting name for this delicious stew! We add potatoes, typically new potatoes or baby potatoes of some kind, about five hours before serving so they cook through but don’t completely turn to mush. Everyone should go make chomp!

  18. grace 19

    i haven’t heard of this, but my goodness, it sounds filling and fantastic. i can see how this would quickly become a go-to comfort food.

  19. Flea 20

    Oh MAN that looks good. And you’ve reminded me that I wanted to make bigos for company on Friday, meaning I’ll have to start it tomorrow. Or try your cholent!

  20. Biz 21

    Having bread for dipping is a must! Looks wonderful and comforting on a cold night.

  21. dawn 22

    This looks like the most wonderful stew I have ever seen…will make it this weekend…if I can wait.

  22. Janine 23

    This looks and sounds absolutely yummy!

  23. This is healthy nourishing food of the best kind!!

  24. Magi 25

    I was going to ask if you’d tried this in a slow cooker because it seems like a recipe that could adapt well to that, but I see from the comments it has been done. This looks really delicious. Thanks!

  25. Bob 26

    Sounds good to me! We just had a snow/sleet storm here and could use some hearty stew. Want to fly me out some? ;)

  26. Cathy,
    My great grandmother (bubby) from Russia always made this wonderful dish!
    I haven’t thought about it in 20 years.

  27. dawn 28

    I am a HUGE lover of beans. Those baked bean casseroles that take all day? Oh yeah, I’m so there, so this looks to die for appetizing.

  28. LilSis 29

    I think the guys in my house would love this! Can’t wait to try it. I love something that not only tastes great, but is easy, too!

  29. Liz C. 30

    Yum! I love beans but can never get hubby to eat them. Probably due to the effect beans have on one’s bodily functions, lol.

  30. This looks so hearty and comforting!

  31. Marjie 32

    I never buy stew beef, because I’m offended at paying extra for someone else to cut the meat into cubes. I love any kind of beef stew. This looks really good.

  32. Can’t wait to make this! I’m Jewish and have never heard of it. Looks just fantastic, and perfect for our “freezing” weather (50s) here in LA.

  33. Pam 34

    Nice! I CAN’T WAIT TO MAKE THIS! I love slow cooked meals – thanks for the great recipe Cathy.

  34. this sounds fantastic and looks great, we have cold frosty winters here not for another 6 or so months though bu i will be making this then for sure

  35. Mary 36

    This sounds wonderful. I am a real fan of slow cooked meals and I can tell I’d love this one. Do you discard bean water?

  36. Melynda 37

    Beans, barley and beef? I am on it. thanks

  37. This is my husband’s kind of meal! I haven’t tried slow cooking in my oven. I’d love to try this one but I think I need lessons on the pronunciation! :D

  38. Lisa Sipple 39

    Oh when that picture loaded I was left with drool on the keyboard…love this and making it soon.

  39. Al W 40

    I’m making this! Where do you get marrow bones in McMinnville? Thank you

  40. Noble Pig 41

    I’ve gotten them at Roth’s and it’s likely WINCO has them as well, they carry a lot of that type of stuff.

  41. This sounds good. I hear the crock pot calling for it!

    So thanks for the nudge. Thanks for calling my “funk” what it was. Hugs!

  42. My kind of stew! I am a one dish dinner lover and am still trying to get my family to eat foods that are touching.

  43. Noble Pig 44

    Yes, discard the bean water.

  44. Awesome! It sounds and looks delicious!!!

  45. I made this on Friday. It needed a lot of salt! I did add carrots and used back bone with meat as I couldn’t find marrow bone. Still, tasty and a nice consistency!

  46. YamhillKathy 47

    Kathy…I bought “beef shank for soup stock” at the Mac Winco yesterday…now I’m wondering if I have the correct thing..almost 1 lb. with one bone and lots of meat and is what the butcher directed me to when I asked for marrow bones. Should I have purchased something else?

  47. Noble Pig 48

    No, it’s not the same.  A marrow bone does not have meat on it.  I would go ahead and use it though, it can’t hurt.

  48. Laura 49

    The longer and lower stew cooks, the better. people who do not think that ovens can replicate slow cookers are not cooking it long or low enough.

    You clearly did. Looks fantastic.

  49. Thanks for a sharing this articles. That’s pretty interesting.

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  51. snowmoonelk 52

    Is that really one TABLESPOON of salt? Seems like a lotta salt to me!

  52. Noble Pig 53

    Yes, that is correct.

  53. esther 54

    this is so much more photogenic than teh cholent we make every shabbos!
    sometimes we add potato kugel (eggs, potatoes and onions baked into a sort-of casserole) wrapped in foil to the cooking pot, or hard-boiled eggs, or kishka, or chopped-up frankfurters. mmmm….

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