Cook cholent before Shabbat?

How cooked does cholent have to be before shabbos comes in? does it have to be “half cooked”? Do you have to add a piece of raw meat right before candle lighting? Is a blech needed?

I know thats a lot of questions, just looking for some general guidance since it seems like this can get complicated.

If you intend to eat the cholent in the morning, then you could even put it up raw right before Shabbos. The only reason you would need a blech is if you wanted to add hot water into the chulent or to return chulent back into the pot.

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And if you are cooking in a regular crock pot and you need a blech, so that you can add hot water.I thought it is Ok to add some pieces of scrunched up aluminum foil at the bottom before you place the ceramic pot into the appliance

Those scrunched up balls of aluminum foil which raise the insert (pot) and cause somewhat less heat are in fact THE Blech.

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