Sunday, April 11, 2010

Easter Feast-er

Hey don’t judge. Rhyming is harder than it looks. But as most of you probably know, this past weekend was Easter. I don’t have any specific recipes for you this week, just some stories and suggestions.
The first year I was in charge of cooking Easter dinner was in college. My friends and I were subletting a town house in D.C. and not everyone was going home for Easter. My parents and sister came down to see me, so we decided to host Easter for all the college and DC transplants we knew. In all, there was going to be about 9 or 10 of us.
I wanted to make ham; that was all I knew. This was also before I really started cooking, and before I really knew what I was doing. Some of the other side dishes I made escape me right now, but I know there was a butternut squash custard, green beans, and maybe potatoes. What really stands out in my mind was how much ham I made.

I took my roommate’s brother grocery shopping with me, which would have been fine, except they were raised as vegetarians. Never ask vegetarians how much ham to serve at Easter dinner. When I hoisted the 8 pound ham into the cart, he looked at me and asked “Do you think that’s enough?” No other word’s strike fear in my heart like those. I never think there’s enough. And if I ask you, if you think there’s enough, you should probably always say YES.
Needless to say I bought a second 8 pound ham. By the time my mother came over from their hotel, I had both hams jammed into a 9x13” pan, and had started cooking them. It took about an hour longer than anticipated, but in all, there was no giant fiasco. My housemates and I happily ate ham sandwiches for the next week. And I gave leftovers to all our guests.

I would love to tell you that I have learned from that mistake, and only buy the amount of food that can be reasonably consumed by two people. But alas, I have not. So this year, I hadn’t planned on eating with our neighbors, I just hoped we would. I bought the smallest leg of lamb I could find – which was still like 7 pounds, not to mention vegetables, appetizers, and cake.
But since the weather was good, we did it all on the grill. I am of the opinion that if you toss any kind of vegetables into a foil pack you can cook them on the grill. This year we had sweet potatoes, red onion and asparagus packets, as well as grilled, marinated red peppers and zucchini. For the lamb I like to cut slits into the meat and jam things into them. This year we tried lemon peel, garlic and rosemary.

Of course, when all was said and done we had about one metric ton of lamb leftover. I counted on Joe to eat a lot of that lamb, but still, that’s only half a ton. So I decided to make a simple lamb ragu to use up the rest.

So my suggestion for this week is ‘Leftover Lamb Ragu’.

Shred left over lamb into some tomato sauce, simmer for at least an hour. Serve over pasta.

Yup, that’s it. You can make your own sauce, or if you have a mountain of dishes and 4 loads of laundry to do, I wouldn’t judge if you tossed that lamb into the jar of sauce you keep in the pantry in case work is especially bad and your boyfriend comes home to find you one and a half martinis in. Not that that happens to me. But the lamb will make the sauce taste great. I also add an extra can of crushed tomatoes, a bay leaf and some more oregano to the jarred sauce.

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