Metro Weekly

Christmas Recipes: A delicious three-course menu from chef Jonathan Bardzik

Butter-seared steak, honey-glazed beets, perfect roast potatoes, and a stunning poached pear finisher.

Photos by Todd Franson

To help usher in the holiday season, we asked Jonathan Bardzik — whose informative and entertaining cooking show Seasons to Taste debuted on the streamer Revry earlier this year — to concoct a special holiday meal. One that pays tribute to the season, but one that’s also scalable. Something that could feed dozens, as well as more intimate parties of four, two, or even one.

The meal Bardzik devised showcases a flawlessly prepared, reverse-seared steak. The meat is flanked by a recipe for carrots that has even those who generally despise cooked carrots often scrambling for second helpings, crisp-tender broccoli, an elegant, sweet-tart salad starter, and a stunning dessert of poached pears certain to bring the house down.

“This is a meal that’s going to feel good to eat,” he says. “It’s going to feel like an indulgence. It’s going to feel special. It’s also the meal that you’ll still feel like you can get up and go for your workout on the twenty-sixth.”

[Looking for drinks pairings? These four festive cocktails will help make Christmas merry!]

The Starter

Pomegranate and Honey-Glazed Beets, and Fresh Greens with Fennel Cream and Lemon Vinaigrette

Photo: Todd Franson

Serves 4

Sugary beets are tempered with tannic pomegranate and earthy fennel balanced against a floral fennel yogurt and tender greens in a bright, lemon vinaigrette. The bright red beets and pomegranate seeds pop against fresh lettuce, providing a beautifully festive start to a special meal.

For beets

  • 2 large beets peeled and cut in 8 wedges each
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds or 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • For salad
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2/3 cups olive oil (the good stuff!)
  • 1-2 heads tender lettuce like Butter or Boston
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils

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Make glazed beets: combine all ingredients in a 3 quart sauté pan. Place over high heat, season with a pinch of salt and few cracks of pepper, and bring liquid to a boil. Reduce to medium-low and cover. Cook until beets are fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water at a time if pan gets dry. When beets are tender, remove lid, increase heat to medium-high and cook until liquid is reduced to a thick syrup that coats the beets. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let cool.

Photo: Todd Franson

Make fennel cream: Combine yogurt and fennel with a pinch of salt.

Make lemon vinaigrette: In a medium bowl whisk together shallot, lemon juice, and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Let sit for 20 minutes while flavors develop. Right before serving drizzle in olive oil, while whisking, to form a creamy emulsion.

To serve: Spread 1/4 cup fennel cream on side of each salad bowl. Dress lettuce lightly with vinaigrette and divide among bowls. Top with beets, 2 tablespoons each pomegranate arils and a sprinkle of lemon zest.

TIP: This looks like a lot of steps for a salad, right? Make the glazed beets, fennel cream, and vinaigrette a day ahead for quick assembly when you are ready to eat.

The Main Meal

Reverse Seared Steak with Blue Cheese Horseradish Butter

Reverse Seared Steak with Blue Cheese Horseradish Butter – Photo: Todd Franson

Serves 4

This is a life-changing steak. So simple, so little effort, and the sauce is made ahead of time so you can sit down to eat without a lot of last-minute scramble. Starting with a slow roast in the oven ensures even temperature edge to edge while the quick sear at the end delivers a rich, crisp crust.

For compound butter

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 oz) butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup crumbled sharp and cream blue cheese like Cabrales or Cambozola
  • 3 Tbsp prepared horseradish
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Sherry vinegar
  • For steak
  • 2 one pound, 2-inch thick NY strip steaks
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil like canola
  • 2 Tbsp butter cut in 2 pieces


Make compound butter: Combine ingredients in a medium bowl and blend together with a rubber spatula or your hands. Shape into a rough log and wrap in plastic wrap, twisting ends closed to form a sausage shape. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Roast steaks: Preheat your oven to 200°F. Place a cookie cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Season steaks on both sides with salt and pepper. Place on rack and place in preheated oven. Roast steaks to just below your target temperature, about 1 hour, and remove from oven. Rest for 30 minutes tented with foil. For rare cook to 120°F, medium-rare 130°F, medium 140°F.

Photo: Todd Franson

Sear steaks: Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet, like cast iron, over medium-high heat. Add oil, tilt pan to coat, and add steaks followed by the butter. When butter melts, tilt the pan toward you and spoon butter over steaks for 30 seconds. Turn the steaks and continue basting with butter for 1 minute longer. Turn steaks one more time and baste for 30 seconds longer.

Photo: Todd Franson

Remove steaks to a plate and tent with foil to rest for 5 minutes. To serve, cut steaks in half and top each portion with a thick slice of blue cheese horseradish butter.

TIP: Resting meat is not optional. It allows the juices to be drawn back into the meat resulting in a juicier steak.

Rosemary and Duck Fat-Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Turnips

Rosemary and Duck Fat-Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Turnips – Photo: Todd Franson

Serves 4

Do I even need to describe this? Rich duck fat flavors creamy fingerling potatoes and flavorful turnips. Buy good, fresh, farmer’s market turnips and you don’t need to peel those or the thin-skinned potatoes.


  • 2 lbs fingerling potatoes cut in 1/4″ slices
  • 1 large turnip cut in 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 4 Tbsp duck fat


Preheat oven to 425°F. Place potatoes and turnips on a rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and add duck fat and rosemary. Toss to coat and spread in a single layer.

Photo: Todd Franson

Place in oven and roast until crispy and golden outside, and tender inside, about 25-30 minutes.

Apricot-Glazed Carrots

Apricot-Glazed Carrots – Photo: Todd Franson

Serves 4

Floral apricot and a bright, bite of heat balance the earthy notes that some people dislike in cooked carrots. This is the dish that “I don’t eat cooked carrots” folks love over and over.


  • 4 medium carrots cut in 2″ matchsticks, about 3 cups
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • White pepper


Steam carrots 5-6 minutes until still very firm in center. Remove from heat and leave covered.

Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a 12″ skillet over medium-low heat. Add shallots and cook until they begin to turn a rich, caramelized brown. Add pepper flakes and cook for one minute longer. Add carrots and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring a few times, until carrots begin to brown on edges.

Photo: Todd Franson

Add apricot preserves and vinegar. As the preserves melt and the vinegar reduces, stir or toss to coat carrots with the glaze. Season to taste with additional salt, white pepper, and vinegar.

Broccoli with Gremolata Cream Sauce

Broccoli with Gremolata Cream Sauce – Photo: Todd Franson

Serves 4

Ah, winter! The season when we crave something bright and fresh, a rare commodity in colder months. Bright, crisp-tender broccoli is coated in a rich-yet-light cream sauce with the fresh flavor of gremolata — a blend of floral lemon zest, sharp raw garlic and grassy, green-tasting parsley.


  • 2 small to medium heads broccoli
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp cold butter cut in 2-3 pieces
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbsp minced parsley


Steam broccoli: Place broccoli in a steamer basket set over water in a 4 quart saucepan. Cover, place over high heat and cook until bright green and crisp-tender, about 10 minutes.

Photo: Todd Franson

Make gremolata cream sauce: Place cream in a 10″ skillet over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, reduce to medium heat and cook until reduced to 1/2 cup. Add cold butter and whisk while it melts to emulsify. Add lemon zest, garlic, and parsley. Season sauce with salt and pepper and toss with broccoli to serve.

The Dessert

Cardamom Poached Pears with Pistachios

Cardamom Poached Pears with Pistachios – Photo: Todd Franson

Serves 4

Simple, elegant, and lighter than the cakes, puddings and trifles that can eat a bit too heavy at the end of a multi-course holiday meal. The preparation is easy and can be done well ahead of time to make serving dessert a simple and pleasurable end to a holiday meal.

TIP: Purchase a dry Riesling or Viognier. Let the sugar, not the wine, provide the sweetness.


  • 4 Bosc pears
  • 2 cups floral wine, like Riesling or Viognier
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Star Anise pods
  • 5-6 green cardamom pods, crushed
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped toasted pistachios


Prepare pears: Peel pears. Using a melon baller, core each pear from the bottom, stopping when seeds are removed. This is far easier than it sounds.

Prepare braising liquid: Combine wine, water, sugar, star anise, cardamom, and cinnamon sticks in a 3-4 quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add pears. Cover with a circle of parchment with a small hole in the center to allow a little steam to release.

TIP: Timing will depend on how ripe your pears are. The longer they need to cook, the more diligently you will need to be watching to add water.

Poach pears and make sauce: Cook pears until fork-tender, adding a little water if the sauce reduces too far. When pears are tender, remove and reserve.

Photo: Todd Franson

Reduce poaching liquid to a thick syrup. Serve pears drizzled with syrup and sprinkle each with a tablespoon of pistachios (or, if you’re feeling fancy, small edible flowers).

TIP: Did your sauce cool and become solid? Just add 2 tablespoons water and warm over medium heat.

[Feeling thirsty? These four festive cocktails will help make Christmas merry!]

A storyteller, cook, and author based in Washington, D.C., Jonathan Bardzik seeks to create joy and share connections, which he has brought to more than 900 audiences ranging from local farmers markets to corporate teams and the TedX stage. The food he cooks to bring people together is inspired by the fresh ingredients he grew up with from his parents’ garden and finds today at local farmers’ markets.

Jonathan’s new 8-episode series Jonathan’s Kitchen: Seasons to Taste is available on-demand on Revry anywhere you stream TV. Visit

Jonathan’s three cookbooks — including his newest, Simple Summer: A Recipe for Joy and Connection —- are available on his website, where you will regularly find new recipes on his storytelling and cooking blog. Visit

Follow Jonathan’s daily cooking adventures on Instagram at @JonathanBardzik.

Read our May 2021 cover interview with Jonathan here.

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