By Samantha Schwalm
When it comes to Easter most people think of colored eggs, peeps, and chocolate bunnies. Let’s not forget that after the bunny and egg hunts, you still have to feed your family and friends. Easter meals traditionally consist of lamb or a baked ham. My family was always partial to roasting a leg of Lamb. On the other hand, my husband’s family loves baking a glazed ham. Both meals are served with some sort of sweet roll or dessert.
The best lamb comes from New Zealand. Usually a leg of lamb will have to be preordered from your local butcher or meat counter at the local grocery store. If you do not have a large crowd, a rack of lamb is a wonderful substitute. Traditionally, lamb is roasted with rosemary and served with mint jelly. My favorite way to prepare lamb is to sear the rack and crust it with pesto and bread crumbs.
If a leg of lamb is not on your flavor palette, a ham is another traditional meat. There are two different kinds of hams: city and country. City hams are produced by submerging the ham in a saltwater solution for several days or even weeks. They are often smoked and usually sold fully cooked. Meanwhile, country hams are cured with a dry rub and hung to dry, much like a prosciutto. They can be smoked or unsmoked but are sold raw. If you have never had a country ham, be careful, they have a saltier flavor profile. However, a pork tenderloin crusted with a grainy mustard sauce and served with steamed green beans, can be a wonderful twist on this tradition.
Every good Easter dinner must have some fabulous sides to go with the main course. When thinking of sides, please keep in mind the wonderful vegetables that are coming into season, for example, artichokes, peas, and asparagus, to name a few. A lite side dish that goes well with both lamb and ham is steamed red potatoes, peas, and asparagus tossed with a white balsamic dressing. This dish can be served warm or cold like a potato salad.
Finally, a way to finish off the meal is with buttermilk biscuits or hot cross buns. A hot cross bun is a spiced sweet bun made with currants or raisins and is marked with a frosted cross on the top. Both make a nice side dish to complete any Easter meal.
No matter which meals you choose, it will be wonderful so long as you surround yourself with family and friends. And for a little treat, sneak a chocolate bunny from your kids.
Rack of Lamb with Pesto
2 Racks of Lamb with the fat trimmed off
2 T unsalted butter
1 bunch of basil
3 T of olive oil
1 clove of garlic
2 T of Parmesan Cheese
1/2 a diced white onion
1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs
* Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
* In a food processor, place basil, garlic, Parmesan, and white onion. Turn on and combine, while ingredients are mixing, pour the 3 tablespoons of olive oil into the food processor. Once completely combined, place in a bowl and mix in the bread crumbs. Set mixture to the side.
* Score the fat on the lamb with a sharp knife. Season the rack all over with salt and pepper.
* Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large heavy oven proof skillet over high heat.
- Sear rack of lamb for 1 to 2 minutes on all sides. Set aside for a few minutes.
- Cover the ends of the bones with foil to prevent charring.
- Take the pesto bread crumb mixture and cover the fat side of the lamb.
- Place the lamb on a baking sheet and place in oven.
- Bake for 15 minutes, and test with a mat thermometer. If meat reads 120 / 125, take it out and let rest for 10 minutes. Meat temperature will rise another 5 degrees.
Mustard Crusted Pork Tenderloin
1 Pork Tenderloin
1/4 cup Whole Grain Dijon Mustard
1/2 Lemon, Juiced
1/4 Olive Oil
1/4 tsp salt & Pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- In a bowl combine the mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper
- Place the tenderloin on a greased baking sheet and season with salt and pepper
- Rub mustard mixture all over the pork, and place in oven for 25 minutes
- Let pork rest for 5 to 10 minutes