Based on the author’s just-released book, Pesach While You Sleep: the easy way to cook ahead for Yom Tov ...no Pesach kitchen necessary!
Cooking for Passover, even in large quantities, does not need to be super time consuming.
I literally cook for Passover with my eyes closed…while I sleep!
My secret? A few slow cookers and a folding table in my basement = my “Pesach kitchen.”
I keep a cutting board, knives, peelers, a few gadgets (like an immersion blender) nearby, and I cook the majority of my Pesach food (for all 8 days) and freeze it weeks before Pesach. Using simple kosher-for-Passover ingredients, I often run out of real estate in the freezer storing my pre-cooked Passover food before many begin stocking their Pesach pantries.
Not that it’s a race. It’s a relief.
Since there are many other physical (and spiritual) ways to prepare for Passover, it all seems much easier to me if the questions, “what we will eat?” and “when will I cook it?” are answered early.
When Pesach gets closer, I kasher our normal kitchen for Pesach so all the things I cooked already can be warmed up there…and so we can make the other non-essentials… like brownies and matzah grilled cheese!
Whether you are making Pesach for the first time, and own barely a utensil, or just don’t want to stand in your deluxe Pesach kitchen all day, try this system and you will get ahead of yourself, with delicious aromas of large quantities of food ready to be frozen.
What I do in a nutshell:
I set up a foil-lined folding table in a corner of my laundry area.
Two to three Passover slow cookers take up residence (attached to an extension cord and/or power strip).
It’s almost like having a robot!
Cooking basically non-stop in night shifts and day shifts, the slow cookers (not me!) produce multiple soups, meats, chickens, vegetable side dishes, and even meatballs, matzah balls and applesauce, etc. over a course of 4-5 days, while I give my attention to other tasks and people!
I spend approximately 10-20 minutes each night and morning, getting the recipes set (directing the robots!), and packaging what is finished to go into the freezer. Once Passover gets closer, there are very few foods that need preparation, such as fresh salads and the Seder plate items.
There are multiple reasons (which may vary year to year) why you would want to use my methods.
It may be that you:
- Suddenly find yourself hosting Passover, due to a change in plans, and are overwhelmed by the work load
- Need to conserve your energy, for whatever the reason
- Are eating out as a guest, but want to help your hosts in some way
- Want easy supper choices to feed your family just before Passover
- Wish for a Pesach kitchen, but your budget is under $100
- Don’t wish to spend much time in your $10,000 Pesach kitchen!
- Are keeping Passover in a not-kosher-for-Passover environment
- Are making Passover for the first time, and don’t want to buy all the pots and pans, etc.
- Want to prepare large quantities of food, spending a small quantity of time
- Want to have your home smell delicious day and night!
- Are hosting guests with allergies or very different tastes and you want to prepare their food separately.
- Want to feel peace of mind that you did most of your cooking early on, and can therefore focus on other tasks (and people)
- Are simply looking for some new, delicious, kosher for Passover slow-cooker recipes!
- You agree with me that less is more. (see intro to my book: Pesach While You Sleep: the easy way to cook ahead for Yom Tov, no Pesach kitchen necessary!)
The first time I tried this system, it took some flexibility to believe I could cook anything but mush in a slow cooker. But once I tried it and saw how low-maintenance, efficient, and delicious it was, I was hooked. I experimented and took notes for a few years, and now we have the book that is available in print!
I am not a chef, a cook, nor someone who even remembers what ingredients I put in the supper. This is not meant to be one of those glamorous gourmet cookbooks. However, I find this system so useful I felt compelled to share it.
This way of cooking gets addictive, with its ease and its amazing smells (and it’s also so forgiving for those who are not exacting in their measurements); I have found myself often using it to prepare both dairy and meat foods year-round, for Shabbat and for weekdays.
We can be ready and rested for Passover!
My friend Rivky’s freezer, who used my method this year already, using only a single crockpot!
----- Here are a few examples of the recipes included in my book:
Before and After Chicken Legs
Yields: 8-10 servings
- 8 chicken legs
- 5 garlic cubes
- 3 onions, chopped
- 4 tbsp. duck sauce (or less)
- 4 shakes each of paprika and garlic powder
- black pepper, to taste
Line slow-cooker with liner. Put chicken legs into slow-cooker. Mix other ingredients together and smear all over the chicken. Cook on low overnight 7-10 hours.
Matzah Balls (gebrokts)
I usually double this recipe (everything besides the salted water – that does not need to be doubled), and it still fits in 1 slow-cooker. This is one of the only recipes I don’t cook through the night.
Yields: about 15 medium balls
- 4 eggs
- 4 tbsp. oil
- 4 tbsp. ice water
- 1 cup matzah meal
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- 8 cups water
Put 8 cups of water with 1 tsp. salt in the slow-cooker. Leave on high for 1 hour. In the meantime, in a separate bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients. Form into balls. After the water in the slow-cooker has cooked for an hour, add matzah balls to it. Cook for approximately 3 hours on low. Allow to cool, then freeze on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, for about an hour. (This helps the matzah balls not stick to each other when frozen together.) You can then transfer matzah balls to small loaf pans/containers/ Ziploc bags to freeze by portions.
[For the slow cooker chicken soup recipes to go with these… see the book!]
Orange Juice Roast
Personally, I’m not much of a roast eater, but from what I hear, people like it moist, tender, and somewhat sweet. No way to go wrong with orange juice and duck sauce! This one smells great from the garlic and onions, and it literally takes 5 minutes to put it all together.
Yields: 10-12 servings, depending on how thin or thick you cut the pieces and how big your eaters are!
- 1 4-5 lb. roast
- 3 onions, sliced
- juice of 2-3 oranges (if using not-from-concentrate orange juice, use ¼-½ cup)
- ½ cup duck sauce
- 3-4 tbsp. ketchup
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. onion powder
- 4 frozen garlic cubes
- 3-4 frozen, sautéed onion cubes
- 1 tsp. salt
Line slow-cooker with slow cooker liner. Place all ingredients into the slow-cooker. Add roast and smear with sauce by hand (I wear vinyl gloves and massage it all in). It’s okay if the roast has a hard time fitting, like a suitcase that’s hard to zip. It will shrink when it softens during the cooking. Leave slow-cooker on low overnight. Turn off slow-cooker and let cool 1-2 hours. Slice meat, then transfer to pan and freeze with the liquid. Reheat covered, so it doesn’t dry out!
(A version of this recipe was first Published in Family First, Pesach While You Sleep by Julie Hauser, March 2016)
While you are preparing the Pesach food for next week, what do you serve for dinner tonight?
If you are trying to use up the chametz a few days before Passover to be eaten, but don’t want to cook it anywhere near your kosher-for Passover kitchen, you can flip-flop my method, and use a folding table in a faraway place as a chametz-only prep area.
Obviously, you must use non-Passover slow cookers: dairy slow cooker for dairy meals, and a meat one for meat meals. If you know you will have no place to clean the slow cookers after use, because your sink is off-limits (due to its new kosher for Passover status), make sure to use slow cooker “liners” for easy cleanup. Here are a few recipes that can be made in a slow cooker while you get all your work and errands done and ready the house and table for Passover.
Dairy Chametz Mac’N’Cheese in the Slow Cooker
Here is a great recipe for when you know you will want a quick simple supper that everyone will eat after running in different directions all day getting everything else ready before Yom Tov.
- ½ cup milk, plus 2 TB (for later)
- 1 ½ cup water
- 1 lb – 1 ½ lb elbow macaroni
- 1 tsp – 1 TB mustard (not powder)
- ½ tsp salt
- 2shakes of black pepper
- 4-5 shakes of onion powder
- 2 TB Earth Balance (or butter)
- 1 to 1 ½ cup mozzarella shredded cheese (add all the cheese at the end)
Line slow cooker with liner. Add all ingredients except cheese. No need to mix. Turn on high for 4 hours. Add 2 more TB milk and add the cheese. The cheese will melt right in. Mix a bit. Turn to “keep warm” setting and serve when you are ready to eat. Alternatively, you may cook on low for 6-7 hours, then add the xtra milk and cheese right before serving.
Slow Cooker Beef Stew (Chametz)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 large potatoes, peeled and chunked
- 2 carrots, peeled and chunked
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and chunked
- 1 package lean beaf stew (about 1.25 lbs)
- 2 TB olive oil
- 2 TB ketchup
- 1-2 TB honey
- 2 cubes frozen garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 shakes black pepper
- Onion powder- be generous
- Marinara sauce ½ cup
- 2-3 cups water
- ¾ - 1 cup raw old fashioned oats –[ if you don’t have them, don’t buy them! Use any starch you want to get rid of – barley, pancake mix, etc!]
Use slow cooker liner to line the pot. I cooked it on high for 4 hours without any water or sauce (only the ketchup and olive oil). Then add everything else and leave on low 3 hours. If you want to “sleep” on this one, dump it all together and cook on low for 7-8 hours, only adding the oats in the morning, leaving it to cook one more hour. Orzo or Israeli couscous works, too, or anything else you are trying to use up!