Over the weekend, NPR ran a story from Deena Prichep on one of the original slow-cooked meals. As she describes,
Cholent is rooted in the Jewish Sabbath, which traditionally prohibits work from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Under some interpretations, this includes prohibitions on even turning on the oven or stove. So for those who want to have a hot meal (and many feel a religious imperative to do so), the solution is to set up a stewed dish cooking low and slow on Friday, long before the sunset. Over a day of slow cooking, flavors infuse, beans soften, and tough cuts of meat become tender. By the time synagogue services are complete on Saturday afternoon, the rich, flavorful stew is ready to ladle out.
For the full audio and text versions of the report, including the details of how cholent inspired Irving Naxon to create what would become the Crock-Pot, head here.