At first, I thought I’d write this to show you all how I bake my gefilte fish and make farfel in the oven. “But why just write about gefilte fish and farfel,” I thought. Why not try to make my whole Shabbos meal in the oven?
“You can skip the soup,” Leah said when I told her the idea.
My mother also wasn’t very supportive. “Soup needs to bubble on a stove,” she said.
“Listen,” I told both of them. “I am testing it! Let’s wait and see.”
I firmly decided that I needed to try it, even just so I could cross it off mentally and I could faithfully write this oven-prepared menu includes: “Everything but the soup.”
Late Thursday night, I popped a soup and cholent in the oven, filled with self-doubt. What if it doesn’t work? I was petrified to peak. I tried to keep myself occupied and distracted so I wouldn’t eat myself up for my silliness.
Three hours later, I removed those two bubbling pans from the oven.
I couldn’t resist; I sat down with my husband for a bowl of cholent right then and there.
“It’s really good, no?”
My husband claimed the cholent was even better than usual.
Friday night came, and with each spoonful of soup, the smile on my face just kept on getting wider.
It was wonderful.
NOTE: I purposely prepared all of these dishes at a 350ºF so that they can bake simultaneously. Bake the soup and cholent in the oven first at 400ºF. You can add everything else to the oven once you lower the temperature to 350ºF. I use a hot plate to keep the food warm on Shabbos (alternatively, some keep their oven in Shabbos mode).
I used two different disposable baking pans to prepare this meal. Regular 9- x 13-inch baking pans, which are 2 inches deep, and deep 9- x 13-inch baking pans, which are 4 inches deep.
Place your roll with the wrapper, into a deep 5- x 7-inch pan. Cover with water, as you would in a pot. Season the water as you usually do. (I include lots of sugar, a pinch of salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper.) Cover pan tightly and pop into a bake at 350ºF for 2 hours. That’s it!
VARIATION: One friend of mine prepares a variation of baked gefilte fish. She unwraps the loaf and smears it with jam, then covers and bakes at 350ºF for 2 hours (with no water). I’ve tried it by her home a few times and it’s also very good! The texture is tougher (not soft like the standard heimishe gefilte fish) but it’s very tasty.
This one’s easy as I bake my salmon most of the time, and there are plenty of recipes out there for that, like this Honey Mustard Salmon.
Use a deep 9-x 13-inch pan and add all the ingredients that you would normally include in your pot. Season with salt and cover well with water. Cover and bake at 400ºF for 1 hour. Lower oven temperature to 350ºF and bake another 2 hours.
What I include in my chicken soup:
A mesh bag with: chicken bones, chicken wings, skin and necks.
Another mesh bag with: parsnip and onion.
Squash, carrots, and celery
Sometimes, I also add some plate flanken.
I add water and kosher salt on top of these components.
Simply prepare your favorite recipe. All potato kugels (except for this one which is prepared in a slow cooker) are already prepared in the oven.
Any version of baked chicken will do. Here’s a super easy one. Pour duck sauce over chicken pieces. I like to mix sweet duck sauce with hot and spicy duck sauce. Cover and bake for 2 hours. Uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.
Pour one bag of toasted farfel into a 5- x 7-inch pan. Add 2 tablespoons oil. Season to your liking and mix well. Cover well with boiling hot water. Cover pan tightly and bake at 350ºF for 15-20 minutes (you can also try this version at cookkosher.com)
You can make your favorite variation of compote, whether you enjoy it with apples or pears, sugar or honey, or no sweetener – just follow the same instructions.
Here is one delicious version I enjoyed recently:
Apple Cranberry Compote
8 apples, peeled and cubed
1 cup fresh cranberries
½ cup honey
3 cinnamon sticks
Place apples into a 9- x- 13-inch baking pan. Add cranberries, then pour honey on top. Add in cinnamon sticks. Cover with water. Cover pan and bake at 350ºF for 2 hours.
Use a muffin tin. Place 1 egg in each of 12 muffin cups. Bake at 350ºF for 30 minutes. Remove and plunge baked eggs in a large bowl filled with ice water until cooled completely, about 10 minutes.
In a deep 9- x 13-inch pan, add a bit of oil, and heat the pan over medium heat on the stove. Add a diced onion and sauté (yes, you can sauté right in the pan, just be careful not to do it over high heat, as it can burn fast. Once your onions are sautéed you can optionally brown your meat here as well). Add beans and your usual cholent ingredients. Add water to at least ½ inch above the ingredients (more than you usually would). Cover well and bake at 400ºF for 1 hour. Lower heat to 350ºF and bake for an additional 2 hours. Check periodically to see if you need more water. Add more water to the pan before rewarming for Shabbos so that it does not dry out overnight.
What I put in my cholent:
Meat, usually Cholent meat, which is made from Second cut.
Great Northern Beans
Chicken soup or water
Onion soup mix
Disclaimer: While 9×13 pans are a great convenient option, all of the recipes featured in this series can also be made in a non-disposable (i.e. glass, ceramic, or metal) baking pan (cooking/baking times may be a little shorter).