In winery kitchen, slowing it down for a harvest meal

The grape harvest at our kosher winery here in Berkeley started on Aug. 11. We grow and source our grapes in the Napa/Sonoma wine country and then transport them to the East Bay for pressing, destemming and fermentation. As a Jewish vintner and cook, I’ve got a lot of hungry winemakers to feed every day through the harvest season. Despite the fast pace of work in the winery, we always make time for hearty harvest meals prepared in our winery kitchen!

Ribeye is a tender, juicy steak that lends itself well to this recipe. But it can be pricey. So feel free to substitute other cuts such as flat iron or hanger steak — not quite as tender, but still good, and far less expensive. And while we do love meat and potatoes, cannellini beans with colorful tomatoes and earthy olives are a fine foil for these steaks. Purists might want to cook dried beans from scratch, but we find that canned beans are just as good, and so much easier to prepare.

The steak rub I’m recommending is based on a recipe from my book “The Covenant Kitchen: Food and Wine for the New Jewish Table.”

In our glass: Any hearty red wine, such as cabernet sauvignon or syrah, will highlight what’s on your plate.

Ribeye Steak with Spiced Chili Rub and Cannellini Beans

Serves 4

4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup diced red onion

2 leeks, white parts only, cut into rounds ¼-inch thick

15-oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

3 Tbs. minced fresh basil

4 ribeye steaks, 6 to 8 oz. each (or two 12- to 16-oz. steaks, cut in half)

2 Tbs. ground chili powder

1 Tbs. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground cumin seed

1/2 tsp. granulated garlic

1/2 tsp. ground coriander seed

1/2 tsp. ground oregano

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 Tbs. canola oil

Cannellini beans: In a large sauté pan or frying pan, heat 2 Tbs. of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the leeks and reduce the heat to low, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water, beans, olives, tomatoes and basil. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat, keep covered and set aside.

Steak rub: In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix all the spices with a spoon or fork and set aside.

Set the steaks on a flat work surface, such as a large carving board, and trim off any large fatty deposits. Spoon 1 tsp. of the chili rub onto each steak. Using your hands, gently massage the spice rub into the surface of the meat. Flip each steak and do the same thing on the other side. Pour any spice rub remaining in the spice bowl onto the work surface. Dip the sides of the steaks into the rub to coat fully with the spices. Set the meat aside for 15 to 30 minutes before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

In a large, oven-proof skillet, heat the canola oil over high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, place the steaks in the pan and sear them for 2 minutes per side, flipping them with a large fork or tongs. Transfer the pan to the middle rack in the oven and roast the meat until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a steak registers 140 degrees for medium-rare, about 8 minutes. Remove the steaks from the oven and let sit for 5 or 10 minutes.

To serve, set one steak on each plate with a serving of beans next to it.


Jodie Morgan

Jodie Morgan is a co-owner of Covenant Winery in Berkeley and has co-authored eight cookbooks with her husband, Jeff Morgan. Their latest is “The Covenant Kitchen: Food and Wine for the New Jewish Table.”