Winter gets all the attention as the "holiday season." Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, turkeys and Santa, we put our entertaining energy fully into the snowy celebrations. But spring is equally as deserving of a toast to the season. Families join for Easter, Greek Orthodox Easter, and Passover; visits to relatives commence during school spring breaks. It's quite easy to find an excuse to cook a decadent celebratory feast.
In Charleston, S.C., where chef Sean Brock leads the kitchens at Husk and Best of Award of Excellence–winning McCrady's, early access to the season's produce has begun, with asparagus, herbs and strawberries already popping up in area farms and gardens. But with Easter Sunday falling particularly early this year, the cooler parts of the nation are unlikely to be overflowing with fresh spring produce by next weekend. Brock shares a recipe for an early spring meal that can be assembled wherever you live, complete with easy-to-find potatoes for your side dish and early-harvested green garlic and parsley to add some seasonal brightness to a tender rib eye.
From his Heritage cookbook, Brock's recipe for slow-cooked rib eye with potato confit and green garlic–parsley butter reflects his conscientious style of Southern cooking. The tenderly prepared cut of steak infuses a special-occasion feel into an otherwise straightforward dish. He muses, "Sometimes one exceptional meal with loved ones can be just as special as a 20-course tasting menu at a grand restaurant."
A thick and decadent cut of meat like a rib eye benefits from a long, slow roast. The secret to success with the dish is twofold, Brock explains: "Get a good sear on the meat before placing it in the oven, and arrange it so that the delicious fat cap slowly bastes the meat as it cooks." You'll be rewarded with an intensely flavorful and succulent steak to serve to your Easter guests.
The robust cut of meat begs for a red wine with pronounced and vibrant acidity and a considerable tannic backbone. A California Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic pairing, but a full-bodied Pinot Noir from the state could also provide a juicy freshness befitting a spring meal. Below, get Wine Spectator reviews for 14 recently rated California Cabernets and Pinots.
Spring Holiday Menu
Slow-Cooked Rib Eye With Potato Confit and Green Garlic–Parsley Butter
For the green garlic–parsley butter:
- 2 cups chopped green garlic (green and white parts)
- 1 pound unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 cup minced shallots
- Grated zest of 1/2 lemon (use a Microplane)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon, kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
For the rib eye:
- 1 center-cut, bone-in rib eye roast (about 7.5 pounds), deckle and fat cap left on
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Canola oil
- 15 thyme sprigs
- 15 rosemary sprigs
- 1 garlic bulb, cut in half
- 5 cups Heirloom Potato Confit (see recipe below)
To make the green garlic–parsley butter:
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Make an ice bath in a bowl with equal parts ice and water. Put the green garlic in a strainer and submerge it in the boiling water for 7 seconds, then remove and submerge it in the ice bath until completely cold. Remove from the ice bath, shake off the excess water, then drain and dry on paper towels.
2. Put the green garlic in a blender and blend on high until smooth, about 5 minutes; add a splash of water as needed to keep the blade running smoothly.
3. Combine the garlic puree, butter, parsley, shallots, lemon zest, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and anchovy paste in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until thoroughly blended, about 2 minutes. Divide the butter in half and put each portion on a sheet of plastic wrap. Roll each one into a log and wrap tightly in the plastic. Place in the freezer and freeze until solid.
To make the rib eye:
1. Preheat the oven to 250° F. Place a rack in a roasting pan.
2. Liberally season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. When the skillet is hot, add 1/4 inch of canola oil. When the oil begins to smoke, add the beef, fat side down, and sear until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Repeat on all sides. Remove from the heat.
3. Cover the rack in the roasting pan with the thyme, rosemary and garlic. Place the beef on the herbs and garlic bulb halves, fat side up. Put the pan in the oven and roast the beef for about 2 hours and 45 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 125° F. Remove the pan from the oven and let the beef rest for 25 to 30 minutes before carving it. Baste the beef with the pan juices several times as it rests. Remove the green garlic–parsley butter from the freezer 1 hour before serving.
4. Carve the rib eye into 6 slices and arrange on warmed plates. Top each slice with a 1/2-inch-thick disk of room-temperature green garlic–parsley butter and serve with the potato confit. Serves 6.
Note: This recipe makes more green garlic–parsley butter than you will need for the rib eye, but it can be frozen, tightly wrapped, for up to 1 month and used in other dishes.
Heirloom Potato Confit
- 1 gallon water
- 2 cups kosher salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 5 pounds small heirloom potatoes, washed
- 1 pound unsalted butter
- 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups lard
- 1 cup rendered bacon fat
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 20 thyme sprigs
- 12 garlic cloves
- 2 fresh bay leaves
1. Combine 4 cups of the water, the salt and sugar in a large stainless-steel or enameled pot and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add the remaining 3 quarts water and stir. Add the potatoes, remove the pot from the stove and brine the potatoes at room temperature for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 250° F.
3. Combine the butter, olive oil, lard and bacon fat in a Dutch oven and heat over medium heat until melted. Stir, add the salt, white pepper, thyme sprigs, garlic cloves and bay leaves, and heat for 7 minutes to infuse the fat with flavor.
4. Meanwhile, remove the potatoes from the brine (discard the brine) and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Carefully place the potatoes in the hot fat, cover the Dutch oven, transfer to the oven and roast the potatoes for 3 hours, until very soft. Cool the potatoes to room temperature.
5. The potatoes can be eaten right away, but they are better if refrigerated, covered with the cooking fat, in an airtight container for at least 3 days. Serves 12 to 15.
Note: Covered in the fat, the potatoes will keep for up to 1 month in the refrigerator. The longer they sit, the better they get. Because of bacteria on your hands, always use a spoon to retrieve the potatoes from the fat; make sure to cover the remaining potatoes with the fat.
Recommended California Cabernets
Note: The following lists are selections of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More wines can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.
FERRARI-CARANO Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2012
Combines a taut, rich core of dense dark berry, earth, cedar and tobacco flavors with a measure of elegance and finesse that emerges toward the finish. Drink now through 2026. 28,000 cases made.
DAOU Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles 2013
Shows off jazzy, mocha-laced oak, accented by dried berry, currant, sage and cedar notes. Ends dry and firm, with a cleansing finish. Drink now through 2026. 20,000 cases made.
FLORA SPRINGS Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2012
Up-front notes of creamy, toasty oak make for a pleasant introduction, leading the way for supple blackberry and wild berry fruit, accented by shades of espresso and licorice. Ends clean and pure. Drink now through 2024. 6,876 cases made.
LOUIS M. MARTINI Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2012
Moderately rich and layered, with black cherry, plum, currant and light cedary oak notes. This shows impressive balance and depth of flavor, ending with gravelly, fine-grained tannins. Drink now through 2023. 53,000 cases made.
TAKEN Napa Valley 2013
This strikes a balance between dark fruit, licorice, dark plum and enticing mocha-laced oak flavors. Clean and pure throughout, ending with tannins that provide good grip. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Drink now through 2024. 10,000 cases made.
BERINGER Cabernet Sauvignon Knights Valley 2013
Marked by dusty, cedary oak and loamy earth notes, this is centered around dried currant, licorice and tobacco leaf flavors, fanning out on the finish where the gravelly tannins take hold. Drink now through 2024. 54,588 cases made.
ROUND POND ESTATE Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Kith & Kin 2013
A simple yet pleasing offering of dried currant, licorice, graphite and light cedary oak, ending a bit simpler. Drink now through 2024. 14,300 cases made.
Recommended California Pinot Noirs
BREWER-CLIFTON Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills 2013
Smooth-textured, with zesty wild berry, raspberry and black licorice flavors, showing spicy floral scents and a touch of lavender, gliding through on the finish. Drink now. 3,262 cases made.
HAHN Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands SLH 2013
Impressive, showing density, concentration, depth and persistence, with layers of blackberry, mocha, cedar, spice and berry pie. Finishes with a strong presence. Drink now through 2021. 15,000 cases made.
AMICI Pinot Noir Sonoma County Olema 2013
This red offers a lively, refreshing and complex mix of snappy wild berry and raspberry flavors that are firm and vibrant, ending long, clean and complex. Drink now through 2020. 6,000 cases made.
DUTTON-GOLDFIELD Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Dutton Ranch 2013
Packs in a medley of dark berry, mocha, currant, blueberry and anise flavors. Intense and potent given the tannic muscle, yet graceful and elegant on the finish, where this ends with density and persistence. Drink now through 2021. 5,267 cases made.
DOMAINE CARNEROS Pinot Noir Carneros 2013
Tight and dense, in a moderately rich style, putting the emphasis on vibrant acidity and snappy fresh fruit that echoes black cherry, plum and blackberry flavors. Drink now through 2020. 4,400 cases made.
KENDALL-JACKSON Pinot Noir Anderson Valley Jackson Estate 2013
A subtle, graceful style, with a layered mix of delicate wild berry, gravel, blackberry, road tar, cedar and dried herb flavors, framed by fine-grained tannins. Lingers on the finish. Drink now through 2020. 3,445 cases made.
MIGRATION Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2013
Pure and complex, from the supple texture to the mix of ripe berry, dried herb and light cedary oak notes. The finish is framed by ripe tannins. Drink now through 2020. 19,950 cases made.