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Git Meshuge…………

Cholent was NEVER ‘universally’ made the same way. The contents varies according to means and availability of ingredients, as well as the tastes of a particular community.

It gets its name from the French word Chaud….hot as corrupted by travel into the Jewish enclaves of Ashkenaz (Germany) them east to the Pale and Yiddish speaking communities.

It essence, it is a derivative of a French ‘pot au feu’ a pot on fire that contained beef broth as well as meat and vegetables, The pot stayed on a hook over the fire’s coals at all times in a home or inn and ingredients were added at will, leftover cuts of meat, vegetables and scrapings, some bits of starch such as potatoes (after 1500), barley, beans.

The way I cook in a kettle on a tripod by our cooking hearth is in this style. I often add what is left in a bottle of wine or beer or ale and leftover bits of meat and vegetables from the fridge, just as a French innkeeper or housewife might have done.

Everyone’s cholent is made to the cook’s whims or taste. My cholent made in the kettle has far more broth than the glop I have been served in many Litvish or Galitzianer homes. The cholent I make in a covered casserole in the brick wall oven by my fireplace is served on dinner plates as sliced pickled rolled beef roast with root vegetables and gravy on the side. This looks like a fine meal that might be served in a German Inn with vinegar based potato salad with onions and pickled red cabbage as the starch and veg sides.

I dare say that when my Great-great Grandmother was making cholent in Bavaria in the 1850s it was not of the same ingredients as that served in eastern Europe. My Grandmother, born in NYC in 1890 told me that she never encountered barley or beans in a cholent until invited for a Shabbos to my father’s grandmother’s home after my parents were engaged. Their lineage was Litvish and although arriving in the USA in 1868 they still made a starch dominated cholent that was thick and heavy.