Nana Nicky’s Cholent


By Debra Kamin

Published on March 19, 2018

In Jewish tradition, this hearty braise of beef or chicken, root vegetables, grains, and a lightly sweet sauce is slow-cooked overnight then eaten for lunch on the Sabbath. Today, many cooks prepare their cholent this way in a slow cooker. But if you are not observing the Sabbath, a quicker, stovetop cholent can be ready to eat in a few hours.


  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 large white onion (8 oz.), coarsely chopped
  • 1 12 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4 medium), peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 large sweet potato (10 oz.), peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup white quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup whole wheat berries
  • 34 cup pearl barley
  • 34 cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 ½ tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 tsp. chili flakes
  • 3 3-inch beef marrow bones (about 1¼ lb.)
  • 2 lb. bone-in beef short ribs, cut crosswise by your butcher into 2- to 3-inch chunks


Step 1

In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 6-7 minutes. Add the potatoes and sweet potato and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened and beginning to brown, 8-10 minutes. If preparing this dish in a slow cooker, transfer the mixture to a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker at this time. Alternatively, keep the mixture in the dutch oven and lower the heat to medium. Add the quinoa, wheat berries, barley, ketchup, soy sauce, paprika, honey, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, the black pepper, and chili flakes and stir until well incorporated. Arrange the marrow bones and short ribs on top of mixture, then add 6 cups of cold water.

Step 2

If using a slow cooker, cover and set to low and cook until the liquid is reduced and he mixture has thickened, 12-14 hours. If braising on the stove, bring the mixture to a low boil, then lower the heat to low to maintain a simmer; cover, and cook until the liquid has thickened, the grains are fully cooked, and the meat is very tender, about 3 hours. Uncover the pot, season the cholent with more salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

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