It probably seems a bit weird…a non-meat eater winning a cholent cookoff? Well, that’s exactly what happened a few weeks ago when I beat out 5 other people at my synagogue’s 3rd annual Adas Yeshurun Cholent Cookoff! Okay, it was
ONLY 6 entries, but hey, I’ll take that trophy any day!
BACK TO THE BEGINNING
Maybe we need to start at the beginning, but what exactly is “cholent“? A meat stew that simmers from Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon, the star of Shabbat lunch – usually includes meat, potatoes, barley, beans and anything else in between, like garlic, onion, BBQ sauce – you name it! Sky’s the limit!
I’ve entered our shul’s cookoff every year (and since my husband organizes it, I want to help support him). The first year was “no bueno”. I made a vegetarian one, because since I don’t eat meat, I figured why not set myself apart with a different cholent? Maybe it’s a good thing to make something different, aye? Uh, not so much. Clearly not a crowd favorite, but no harm done. I’ve learned my lesson.
SECOND PLACE ‘AINT SO BAD!
The second year, I basically put in a half a cow. I used all of the ingredients the shul (synagogue) provides to us – a can of peeled potatoes, kishka (sausage), meat, beans & barley (not too much), and some spices. Added honey because I know the shul’s cholent is on the sweeter side and our congregants LOVE it (so much so, that the shul’s cholent won the first year of the competition, so they’re not allowed anymore to compete, it’s a bit of an unfair advantage!). And finally, BBQ sauce, and frozen pearl onions for extra sweetness (and much easier then chopping onions).
Last but not least, PASTRAMI! Technically it’s the meat ends that I add in the cholent (but I guess the secret is officially out!). Needless to say, I came in 2nd place last year. A much improved placing, but I still had some work to do.
THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM!
Now THIS was my year to really shine and show the crowd my cooking chops. It’s tricky though, making cholent in a big foil pan in the oven. Nope, this isn’t your regular Shabbos cholent simmering away in your slow cooker. The technique to winning this cook-off is all about how much water you put in. And since it starts cooking Friday morning, the kitchen crew (usually my hubs) always adds in extra water so it doesn’t burn.
Do I measure my ingredients? Nah, I’ve gotten pretty good at eyeballing everything.
As for the rest of my secret ingredients? Well, I’m not going to give all of them away, but I feel like I’ve already said too much! 🙂
Until next time…Shabbat Shalom ya’ll!