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Passover Pairings From Some Top Chefs

Passover Pairings From Some Top Chefs

Dine and drink well on the Festival of Freedom, with a little help from some elite cooks.

In the traditional Jewish liturgy, Passover is referred to as the “Festival of Matzah, the time of our freedom.” While the holiday may be about freedom, at times it can feel like it’s only about matzah, and its dietary restrictions can certainly make one feel anything but free.

In truth, however, with the growth of the Passover food industry, it is easier than ever to dine well during Passover. To help prove this point we have asked three well-known kosher chefs to provide us with a Passover-friendly recipe and recommend a wine to accompany it.

Finding just the right wine to go with a dish can be a daunting challenge, and chefs are often the best guides in selecting the right wines to accompany their culinary creations.

Chag someach and bon appétit!

Chef Jeff Nathan, of Abigael’s on Broadway, offers his “Layered Lamb and Apricot Kouresht with Braised Matzah Stuffing” (Serves 8):


½ cup dry white wine
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 pinch saffron
olive oil, as needed
matzah flour, for dredging
4 pounds lamb shoulder, (or beef chuck),
cut to medium-sized cubes
3 onions, sliced into half moons
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup crushed tomatoes and juice
½ cup water
¼ cup dry apricots, diced
1 tbs. oregano
¼ tsp. cumin
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a small bowl, combine the white wine, cinnamon and saffron. Stir well, set aside and allow to steep for at least 10 minutes.

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil. Dredge the cubed meat in the matzah flour. In batches, sear the meat on all sides. As the meat is seared, transfer to a large ovenproof casserole.

To the same sauté pan, add 1-2 tablespoons more oil. Add in the garlic and onions. Cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, water, apricots and spices. Add the infused wine. Pour into the pan of garlic and onions. Heat until a gentle simmer is achieved. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Pour over the seared lamb. Cover tightly and bake in a 350 degrees F. oven for approximately 1½ hours until the meat is nearly tender.

Meanwhile, prepare the Braised Matzah Stuffing.


2 cups matzah meal
1 cup seltzer
8 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbs. olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground
black pepper
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped

In a medium bowl, place the matzah meal. Whisk in the seltzer, beaten eggs and oil. Season with salt and pepper as necessary. Mix in the minced jalapeno pepper (adjust quantity as desired), and the chopped parsley.


After the meat has braised for 1 ½ hours, remove from the oven.

Lightly grease a second ovenproof casserole. Place half of the lamb in an even layer on the bottom of the casserole. Spread the Braised Matzah Stuffing on top of the lamb. Place the remaining lamb on the matzah stuffing. Cover the casserole and bake one more hour.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool 10-15 minutes before serving.

Chef Nathan pairs his dish with Rothberg Cellar’s Pinotage from South Africa.

Chef David Kolotkin, of the Prime Grill, offers his
“Almond Crusted Veal Chops” (Serves 2):

David Kolotkin of Prime Grill.


2 12-ounce bone-in veal chops
(Ask your butcher for center cuts,
or from the loin end.)
1 egg, beaten
(for use as an egg wash)
1 cup finely ground almonds
Oil, as needed


2 quarts water
½ cup kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 bay leaves
1 bunch of fresh thyme
30 black peppercorns
1 star anise
8 whole cloves


Combine the brine ingredients and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Then cool the brine by placing it in an ice bath. When the brine is cool, submerge the veal chops in the brine and refrigerate for five hours.

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the veal chops, and pat dry. On only one side of chops (the presentation side), brush with the egg wash, then dredge in the ground almonds.

Brown, almond side first, in a large skillet, over medium heat, with enough oil to coat the pan. When lightly browned, turn over and brown the other side. Then place the skillet in the oven for approximately 15-20 minutes. (Chef Kolotkin recommends cooking the chops to medium.)

Chef Kolotkin pairs his dish with either Herzog’s Special Reserve Russian River Valley Chardonnay, or Borgo Reale’s Maturo from Italy.

Chef Daniel Espinoza, of Wolf and Lamb, offers his “Salmon
Croquettes” (Serves 6):

Daniel Espinoza of Wolf and Lamb.


1 pound of salmon filet, chopped
1 cup fresh corn kernels,
roasted (optional)
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbs. finely chopped onion
3 tbs. finely chopped red pepper
¾ cup breadcrumbs (or matzo meal)
2 tbs. mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste


Combine all of the ingredients and form into two-inch patties which are slightly flattened. Sear 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown. Serve with mesclun greens and Dill Creme Fraiche

Dill Creme Fraiche:


1 cup creme fraiche (or sour cream)
2 tbs. finely chopped dill weed
salt and pepper to taste

Chef Espinoza pairs his dish with Herzog Selection’s Chateneuf white Bordeaux.