Cauliflower Short Rib Cholent
Saturday is our slow-down day. We tend to keep Shabbat the old-fashioned way, mostly because after a busy week, it helps us connect as a family. We don’t use our phones, we have long, leisurely lunches with friends and their kids here in London, and our whole day is devoted to togetherness.
And though a lot of my personal and professional life revolves around food, I try not to cook at all on Saturday — because after working all week long, all I want to do is see and spend time with my daughter, Liba.
So it only makes sense that I’ve been getting really, really into cholent. Yikes, I know. Cholent. For most, the word evokes that skinned-over, gloop of a stew usually found in oversized aluminum containers in synagogue halls. Ingredients indistinguishable one from the other, a monochrome mess in a particularly unappealing shade of brown.
No, I can’t say I’ve ever been the biggest fan of the stodgy meat, bean, and potato mix. But I do love the tradition from which it came — and the idea that it’s prepared on Friday afternoon and left to cook on low heat, completely untouched, until lunchtime on Saturday.
A warm, crowd-pleasing meal with almost no prep and no active cook time. What’s more modern (or magical) than that?
That’s probably why I’m completely mad about this easiest-ever cauliflower “cholent” recipe. All the satisfaction of a steaming stew, all the feeling of a proper Shabbat meal — just without the gloop. It’s seriously good - and the best part is, it hardly counts as cooking.
Cauliflower & Sweet Potato Cholent with Short Ribs
What You’ll Need:
1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
4 pounds (2kg) kosher beef ribs or short ribs (if you can’t find them, any kosher stewing meat on the bone will do!)
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped into thirds
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into quarters lengthwise
½ cup fig or plum jam
2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
What You’ll Do:
Preheat your oven to 260°F (or 125°C). Wash the cauliflower.
In a large bowl, add 2 tablespoons of salt to 1 quart warm water. Submerge the head, florets down. Let sit 5-10 minutes, weighted down if needed, then remove and rinse (but leave it whole!).
Pour 1 tablespoons of the oil into the bottom of a large, oven-safe pot with a tightly-fitting lid (such as a dutch oven, casserole pan, or the equivalent). Heat the oil on medium heat, then add the garlic cloves and cook until browned.
Remove the garlic cloves and set aside. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pot and place the cauliflower, florets up, in the center.
Generously salt the ribs and place them around the edges, surrounding the cauliflower (it might be a tight squeeze. Don’t worry. Just keep playing with it until the meat is in a concentric circle around the cauliflower). If you’re using kosher meat, you can skip the salt.
Place the garlic, carrots, and sweet potatoes on top of the meat, leaving the cauliflower exposed if you can. Generously sprinkle everything in the pot with salt and pepper.
In a separate, small bowl, combine the jam with 1 cup boiling water. Mix with a fork until combined, then drizzle the mixture and the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil evenly over the ingredients in your pot. Cover tightly with lid.
Cook at 260°F for at least four-and-a-half hours, or overnight — until the meat is literally sliding off the bone. And that’s it! Serve with a fresh, lemony salad and enjoy.