Vegetarian or Meat Cholent

Adapted from Levana Kirschenbaum
Makes 12 servings

1 ½ lb. stew meat (optional)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 large cloves garlic
1 large onion, cut into large chunks
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into large chunks
1 small bunch cilantro
1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley
3 ribs celery, peeled and halved
1 large carrot, grated
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cups dry red wine
2 cups red beans, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
½ cup pearl barley
¼ cup chili powder
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons cumin
¼ cup chopped semisweet chocolate
3 tablespoons sugar
2 ½ quarts (10 cups) water
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy pot over high heat. Combine the garlic, onion, red pepper, cilantro, parsley and celery in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add these vegetables to the oil and sauté until they look translucent and the liquid has cooked off 3 to 4 minutes. Add the carrot, meat (if you are using it), tomatoes, wine, beans, barley, chili powder, oregano, cumin, chocolate, sugar, water, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Transfer to a slow cooker and cook on low for three hours. Turn crockpot to warm and leave the cholent warming until ready to serve.

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