Devorah’s Cholent Recipe

Cholent, the traditional stew for the Sabbath midday meal, is uniquely Jewish. It was invented because Jewish law does not permit cooking on the Sabbath.

According to many sources, the word cholent may have come from the medieval French, chaud-lent, meaning “warm slowly.” Traditionally, cholent was prepared in a heavy pot on Friday before sundown, partially cooked on the fire, and placed in the oven to continue cooking throughout the night. This way, observant Jews could enjoy warm food on the Sabbath day without kindling a fire.

No two cholent recipes are exactly alike, and many of the ingredients and spices vary according to one’s family tradition or country of original. Devorah’s cholent is similar to the dish that Mrs. Fenton served at Ten Oaks, but has a few modern additions, such as the Americans’ belove ketchup. Her recipe, below, serves six. If you are inviting more people to try your cholent, add 1 medium potato and 4 oz. brisket for each additional person. If you are inviting a crowd, double the recipe for every six people.


1-1/2 to 2 pounds beef brisket, cut into large pieces, large chunks of fat removed

1 medium onion, sliced

1 tbsp. olive oil

6 medium potatoes, cut into chunks (Devorah just washes the potatoes and leaves the skin on to save time.)

1/2 cup kidney beans

1/2 cup white beans

1/4 cup barley

1 tsp. paprika

2 tsp. granulated garlic

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1/4 cup ketchup


The night before you want to make the cholent, place the kidney beans in one pot, and the white beans in another pot. Cover the beans in each pot with at least 3 inches of water and soak overnight. The next day, drain and rinse well, and check the beans before adding them to the cholent.

To make the cholent: In a large heavy pot or casserole with a tightly fitting lid, sauté the onions until soft. Remove the onions and add the meat to brown. Add the onions back in. Add the remaining ingredients, add enough water to cover the ingredients, and stir just a little to mix the ingredients up.

Place the lid on the pot and bring to a boil. Lower the flame and simmer for about one-half hour to an hour. (The potatoes should start to become soft.)

Remove the pot from the flame. If you have a hotplate that actually gets hot enough to burn you, place the pot on the hotplate to continue cooking overnight. Or, you can place the pot in a low oven (225° F or 110° C) and leave it to cook overnight. Keep the cholent on the hotplate or in the oven until you are ready to serve it.

Crockpot/slowcooker method

Place the ingredients in the slowcooker, add water to cover, and cook on high heat for at least 4 hours. Turn heat down to low and let cook overnight, until you are ready to eat.