Click for Joel’s Top Ten Shabbat Stew Cooking Tips:
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1. There are many methods to cook a Shabbat stew. For some stews, one method works better or worse. Use your judgment. The top three are in a slow cooker (“Crock-Pot”), in a heavy pot (e.g. Dutch oven) on an electric hot plate, or in a heavy pot in the oven at around 230°F / 110°C.
2. Placing foil between the pot and the lid will help prevent the stew from drying out. Fold the foil up around the top of the lid so steam doesn’t drip down the sides and make a mess.
3. Make the stew your own. Leave out any ingredient you don’t like, add in more of one you do.
4. Want to know if you can replace ingredient X with ingredient Y? Try it! You probably won’t utterly destroy the stew. At worst, it won’t be the best stew ever, and you’ll make it differently the next time.
5. When thinking about changes you’d like to make to any given recipe, the primary concern you should have is, “will it hold up to long, slow cooking?” Most people don’t want vegetables that turn to complete mush. Also think about are whether you prefer a stew that leans more to the sweet or to the savory end of the spectrum.
6. Special dietary needs? Buckwheat makes a great grain for gluten free cooking. Rice can also do the trick. For vegetarians, you can often simply leave the meat out, but other options include seitan, mushrooms, or plant-based sausages.
7. If using dried beans, they should ideally be soaked overnight first, though with a full night cooking ahead of them, this is usually not necessary. And in my opinion, in a stew of this sort, where the beans are not the sole or primary ingredient, canned beans typically work just fine. (Shhh, don’t tell anybody.)
8. Feel free to mix foods from different Jewish cultures. Put huevos haminados (Sephardi slow-cooked eggs) into an Ashkenazi chulent, or Yemenite jachnun into a Moroccan skhena. This is the 21st century!
9. If cooking eggs inside the stew, be careful when you remove them to peel. They will be very hot. Let them cool first, or even run them briefly under cold water.
10. Kosher meat is pre-salted. If you aren’t using kosher meat, you may need to add more salt.