Cholent Potpie

Yehuda Sichel

1 hour active time + 3 hours cooking + overnight soaking & resting

serves 4

Blue casserole dish with cholent pot pie and a large serving spoon

Cholent Potpie. Photo by Penny De Los Santos.

Cholent Potpie. Photo by Penny De Los Santos.

“The whole day was a cholent party,” chef Yehuda Sichel says about Saturdays in his childhood home in Baltimore. His family’s Hungarian cholent tradition is traced to his mother’s mother Charlotte. According to family lore, when she immigrated to the U.S. in 1949, the only possession she brought with her was a pot used for cholent that produced a legendary crust. Her cholent was known for being capped with challah kugel, a savory bread pudding, that made the dish appear like a large potpie. Yehuda says he barely remembers Charlotte’s rendition, but, “I remember the stories about it,” and the scent of the dish. This recipe is his own take on it.

Read more of Yehuda’s story on the Jewish Food Society archive.


  • 1 cup dried kidney beans
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • ¾ pound boneless short ribs, cut into 2” cubes
  • ½ pound kosher salami, cut into ½ ” cubes
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 stalk of celery, sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • kosher salt
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon hot smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 sweet potato, cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 Idaho potato, cut into 1” cubes
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • Store-bought frozen puff pastry or pie dough
  • 1 large egg, beaten


  1. Combine the barley and kidney beans in a large bowl and cover with water by several inches. Soak overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning, drain and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 275°F. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a 4-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper, then add them to the pot and brown on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the ribs from the Dutch oven and set aside. 
  3. Add the salami to the pot and cook until brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the salami and set aside. Add the onions, celery, garlic, carrot, and a small pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened and are slightly browned, about 8 minutes.
  4. Add the ketchup and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes until the mixture starts to bubble. Add the red wine and bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes to burn off the alcohol. Add the cumin, paprika,  bouillon cube, water, and stir to combine. 
  5. Return to a boil and add the beans, barley, short ribs, rosemary and potatoes to the pot. The liquid in the stew should be just covering the meat. Remove excess liquid and add additional water as necessary. Cover the stew with a lid and place in the oven for about 3 hours or until the short ribs are fork tender. Let the stew cool, covered in its liquid, then refrigerate overnight.
  6. The following day, preheat the oven to 400°F. Transfer the stew to a separate pot, add 1 cup of water or stock to loosen if necessary, then bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  7. Pour the warm stew back into the cold Dutch oven, sprinkle parsley over top, and drape a sheet of puff pastry over the sides of the Dutch oven. Crimp the dough around the edges of the pot and trim away any excess. Brush the top of the puff pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with salt.
  8. Place the stew in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Let stand for 15 minutes, and serve.

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