From Recipes Remembered, by June Hersh
Recipe by Frania Faywiowicz, Poland
Cholent is considered a special dish by observant Jews who needed to prepare Saturday’s midday meal, before Friday at sundown. The combination of ingredients are as varied as the families who prepared them, but traditionally included meat, potatoes, beans and barley. The common factor is the slow baking, up to 2.4 hours, at a very low temperature. The stew would be assembled at home and then the pot would be brought to a local bakery Friday before Shabbos began, to bake overnight. Almost a ritual itself was retrieving the pot from the bakery and eating the dish Saturday afternoon.
Frania’s version of cholent has two textures of potato, melding into beef flanken and creating a satisfying, comforting, full-bodied meal. If the aroma from your kitchen could be bottled, it would be called haimish. Frania recalls everyone coming over to enjoy this dish; not because its brownish color is divine, but the taste seems almost sanctified.
2 russet potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced plus 1 russet potato, peeled and grated
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 pounds beef flanken
Preheat the oven to 225 degrees and line the bottom of a heavy lidded pot with wax paper.
Slice 2. of the potatoes paper–thin. If you have a mandolin or professional vegetable slicer, now would be the time to use it. Cover the wax paper with half the sliced potatoes. Sprinkle the potatoes with 1 teaspoon of salt and a few turns of cracked black pepper. Lay the flanken on top of the potatoes and surround the flanken with the grated potato. Season with the remaining salt and additional pepper. Pour 2. cups of water into the pot, and then spread the remaining sliced potatoes on top. Cover with a piece of wax paper, which seals the ingredients and helps retain moisture while the dish bakes.
Cover the pot and bake at 225 degrees,overnight. Do not stir the dish or disturb the ingredients while baking.
Take the cholent out of the oven, remove the wax paper and dab a paper towel on top of the sauce to absorb any oil that has collected on the surface. Be sure when serving that you do not scoop up the wax paper from the bottom of the pot.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings;
Start to Finish: 15 minutes prep, then slow roasted for up to 15 hours
Recipes: Meat, Flanken, Cholent, Kosher
Did you know that the trendy short rib, that appears on every menu today, is really good old–fashioned flanken, cut in a different direction? You can substitute one cut for the other and the final result will be very similar. The short rib, which is cut parallel to the bone, looks meatier with one hefty chunk of meat, while flanken, which is cross–cut, has several smaller bones.