Summer Chulent — light on the belly and the budget

“Good down to the bones”!

Chulent in July?! I admit, I was skeptical. I wasn’t sure that a big heavy meaty meal on a hot summer afternoon was quite what was called for. But with a few modifications to our standard chulent recipe, and the intoxicating flavor of our Pastured Beefy Bones, the chulent was hands down the star of the show.

The biggest innovation was to pair Beefy Bones and Flanken. The Beefy Bones don’t have a ton of meat, but are incredibly rich in flavor. The Flanken (we used about 2lbs) are tender and meaty, and provided a reasonable, but by no means over the top, amount of meat. This meant the chulent was creamy and thick with beefy taste, but portions of actual meat were quite small — and relatively cost effective: a pack of Bones and Flanken will set you back about $30, so it’s a pretty affordable way to feed a group of 6 or 8.

The second innovation was to skip the potatoes. It wasn’t really a matter of planning, we just didn’t have any potatoes. But this too, in the end, meant a simpler, lighter chulent. We had two big carrots from our CSA, and some onions, so those went in along with a little garlic. Somehow the carrots caramelized in the best possible way, sweet and dark sugary brown. I picked them all out to eat first!

The other ingredients: pearled barley, navy beans, adzuki beans and water. And for spice: Aleppo pepper, cumin, garlic powder, freshly ground black pepper, cayenne, paprika, and ancho chile powder.

We were grilling chicken for dinner, so we quickly seared the bones and flanken on the grill before adding to the chulent. If your BBQ isn’t all fired up, a quick sear in a hot oven or pan will do nicely to brown the bones and bring out the flavor.

To round out the meal: salad with cucumbers, radishes and scallions; ice water with lemon, mint & shaved cucumber; techina and crusty bread.

And a Beefy Bonus! After plates had been scraped clean for the first time, we got around to sucking the marrow out of the bones. The flanken bones are thin and quite flat, but the slow cooking had made them soft enough that you could stick a knife down the middle and split it open. What we discovered inside made our guests swoon! More rounds of bread were sliced, and we indulgently spread them with the thick, creamy, rich marrow. “It’s rich like liver,” said one of our guests. “This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever tasted!” said another. In no time we’d fished through the chulent pot for the rest of the bones and sucked them dry.

If you’re looking for beefy flavor, it doesn’t get much better than this!

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