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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Beef, Farro and Prune Overnight Stew

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

AUG 28, 2013

For centuries, Jews relied on overnight stews to nourish them during Shabbat and holidays. Because Jewish law forbids any work, including cooking, during days of observance, assembling a dish the day before and baking it overnight, usually in the town's communal oven, was the way Jews throughout the Diaspora could serve warm, cooked food while observing the religious restrictions.

Eastern European Jews had cholent, a stew of beans, potatoes and beef. Northern African communities served a similar dish, dafina, with the addition of chickpeas. Iraqi Jews made tbeet, a dish of stuffed chicken with rice, and Yemenite Jews would bake a variety of breads and rolls and serve them with a spicy tomato salsa.

The overnight stews were then served for lunch, ready for the hostess to simply open the pot lid and reveal the steaming-hot dish.

This dish is a personal modern version of the traditional stews. It can be done in the slow cooker; do not skip the bean-soaking and searing steps. Skin-on fava beans are available where Goya dried products are sold, such as Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, and at Middle Eastern markets.

Make Ahead: The fava beans need to soak overnight. The stew needs to slow-cook overnight in the oven for 8 hours. It tastes even better after a day or two of refrigeration. For a breakfast bonus, place whole eggs on top of the stew and bake them with it overnight. The egg whites will become light brown in color, and the yolks will be very creamy. Serve the eggs sliced, seasoned with salt and pepper.


Yield: Makes about 12 1/2 cups

8 ounces dried fava beans (not split favas, but skin-on; see headnote)
One 2-pound boneless beef chuck roast
4 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
12 ounces uncooked farro (a generous 2 cups)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons tomato paste
10 pitted prunes
Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks (may substitute 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
5 cups water, at room temperature

Place the fava beans in a bowl and cover with water to soak overnight. Drain.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Have a narrow, deep ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid at hand; the food should fit in snugly. The pot should be about 9 inches across, with a capacity of a little over 4 quarts.

Use paper towels to pat the meat dry. Season all over with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper.

Heat the oil in the pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the meat and sear for about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium; add the onion and stir to coat. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the onion has softened and picked up some color. Remove the pot from the heat.

Add the farro, fava beans, the remaining 3 1/2 teaspoons of salt and the remaining teaspoon of pepper, the nutmeg and cardamom; mix well. Stir in the tomato paste and prunes until well incorporated.

Push the farro mixture to one side so you can return the seared beef to the pot right alongside it. Place the cinnamon sticks on top of the meat.

Add the water, which should just about cover what's in the pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; skim off and discard any foam that rises to surface. Remove from the heat.

Cover the pot opening tightly with aluminum foil, then seal with the pot's lid. Slow-cook in the oven for 8 hours or overnight. Uncover and taste for seasoning. Discard the cinnamon sticks. Serve hot; or cool completely, cover and refrigerate for a day or two.

From Washington caterer Vered Guttman, who blogs about food for

Tested by Nicole Schofer.

Nutritional Facts
Calories per serving (based on 8): 480
% Daily Values*
Total Fat: 14g 22%
Saturated Fat: 3g 15%
Cholesterol: 65mg 22%
Sodium: 1190mg 50%
Total Carbohydrates: 55g 18%
Dietary Fiber: 13g 52%
Sugar: 7g
Protein: 36g

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