I have a question regarding the timing of cooking cholent in a normal crockpot where the heating elements are covered by the frame of the pot and heat from the bottom and up all the sides. The crockpot has High, Low, and Keep Warm settings.
I have seen conflicting instructions regarding what state the cholent liquid must be at when Shabbos enters. Does it have to be rapidly boiling when shabbos enters? Or, if it is on low, is it enough that it is already being heated and bubbling a little? (…and the heat source is covered, structurally and with an extra foil blech)? In such a situation, it would eventually reach rapid boil by Shabbos morning. Is there any situation where, if all the solid ingredients are at least “half cooked”, where I can plug the crockpot in on low with not-yet rapidly boiling water just an hour before shabbos? Obviously I would not remove it until shabbos lunch.
Answers to these questions, or if you can send along any basic guide to preparing cholent in such a crockpot — with the goal being to minimize overcooking and/or to put things on as close to shabbos as possible — would be very appreciated.
The cholent should be placed on the fire long enough to be half-cooked before sunset. It is best (in terms of the quality of the cholent) to cook it fully before Shabbos, and then leave it on “keep warm.”
See Shulchan Aruch 253.
For issues of a crockpot in general see here.