Long story short: we ended up in this small village called Mikulov where we had lunch at hotel Tanzberg. And cholent was on the menu. I didn’t know what it was but the description sounded delicious. Cholent or Hamin is a traditional Jewish stew. A bit like a local version of a French cassoulet, with duck. So that and the explanation of our local guide and Czech foodie friend Martin made me go for it.
And I was right to do so. The waiter put the most lovely bowl of beans, wheat berries, shredded confit duck and pickled gherkins in front of me. I loved it, and so did my husband who actually regretted going for a salad.
Cholent Recipe with Confit Duck
Just look at it, it’s a piece of art! And see how small those beans are. A couple of days later we happened to stop by a local supermarket and I was able to find those small dried white beans there. Quite a souvenir! But I was determined to copy this cholent recipe at home. I still had a tin of confit duck legs in my pantry that I took with me the last time we visited Paris. Sounded like the perfect occasion to open it!
Look, I didn’t prepare it the traditional way, more like my way and based on the dish I had in Mikulov. It was quite chunky and rich. I saw different versions of this dish online that looked more like baked beans with loads of sauce. In fact this cholent is a Jewish bean stew. Other meats can also be added like beef or chicken. A classic cholent is oven baked overnight at low temperature.
The thought behind is that you add all the ingredients to a large baking dish on Friday and bake it for hours until it is ready to eat for lunch on Saturday. Or Shabbat because it’s the day of rest when cooking, baking and the kindling of a fire are prohibited for Jews who follow the rules of their religion strictly.
Like I said before I prepared this cholent my way: it is ready after a generous 2 hours in the oven. I used some of the duck fat to make this dish. Traditionally schmaltz is used, rendered chicken or goose fat used for frying or as a spread for bread.
Hope you will like this one as much as we did!
Cholent, a Jewish bean stew: my style!
- 1 large confit duck leg
- 4,5 oz dried white beans (125 g), soaked overnight
- ½ small onion chopped
- 1 small fresh carrot peeled and chopped
- 1 small stalk fresh celery diced
- 1 large garlic clove peeled and chopped
- 2 ½ cups beef stock (600 ml), or chicken stock
- 3 oz wheat berries (85 g)
- 1 tbsp duck fat or unsalted butter
- 2 pickled gherkins sliced
- a handful fresh dill chopped
- ⅓ tsp paprika powder
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 clove
Soak the beans overnight.
Add the duck fat (or butter), chopped carrot, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves, cloves and bay leaves to a large pan.
Place it over medium heat until the fat or butter has melted. Stir well and cook for 4 minutes. Strain the soaked beans and then add them to the pan also.
Give the ingredients a good stir. Then add the stock and paprika. Season with a good dash of pepper.
- Stir and bring the ingredients to a boil. Then take the pan off the heat and pour it all in a baking dish.
Cover and place the dish in a preheated oven at 320°F (160°C) for an hour. Then add the confit duck leg and wheat berries.
Give it a good stir. Bake the beans uncovered for about 45 minutes. After that shred the confit duck up and remove skin and bones. Add the meat back to the beans and stir. Add extra water if necessary.
Then place the cholent uncovered in the hot oven for another 30 minutes. In the end check the seasoning and add extra pepper or salt to taste. Remove the clove and bay leaves. Scoop the cholent onto deep plates and drizzle with the remaining cooking liquid. Garnish with the chopped dill and sliced gherkins.