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Test Kitchen Tips for Easter Recipes

Test Kitchen supervisor Marcia Kiesel stopped by Food & Wine's Facebook page to answer fan questions about Easter recipes. Here are some of the highlights.

Easter Ham, Veal and Lamb Recipes

We traditionally have ham for Easter dinner, but I’d like to switch it up this year. What recipes would you recommend?
This roast rack of lamb is dead simple and utterly delicious. Although we call for the rack to be frenched (to remove the meat from the rib bones), I also like to keep all the meat on the ribs. It’s an expensive cut, so you may as well get all the meat that comes with it. It’s very tasty, fatty, lovely meat.

Would you use the same approach for rack of veal?
Oh yes! I love veal and I wish I could have rack of veal for every Easter! With the veal, I’d probably cook it half an hour less than the lamb, as veal is more tender and cooks a little faster. I would cook veal to an internal temp of 145 in the thickest area.

Any suggestions for getting that exterior crunch on lamb in an apartment without smoking out the neighbor?
To get a crusty leg of lamb, I prefer to use the oven. For a leg of lamb on the bone, the first step is to rub it generously with lemon juice and then with olive oil, and preferably marinate it over night. I hope you have some sort of exhaust system, which will help with the neighbors! If you don’t, then you’ll have to go low and slow—325 degrees for about 3 1/2 hours or longer if you like the meat past medium. If you do have a good exhaust system, I would start the lamb at 425 degrees and let it go for about 45 minutes.

Hi! I’ve never worked with lamb but have wanted to try it. Anything I should know beforehand?
There are 2 camps: medium-rare lamb lovers, and those who like it well-done. Leg of lamb and lamb chops are for the medium rare folks. And a braised shoulder of lamb is for the tender well-done group. If you like a beefy steak of lamb, then go with medium rare. It’s milder tasting. If you like a stronger tasting meat, then go with the braised shoulder. Good luck!

We’re doing lamb for the first time this year. Any suggestions for side dishes?
I’m glad you’re ready to try lamb. This is the time of year. A fantastic accompaniment for spring lamb are artichokes, which can be easily steamed whole and served with a garlic mayo, which is also great with the lamb.

We're getting tired of ham. What are some alternative preparations?
Don’t give up on ham until you’ve tried my spicy pineapple glazed ham with jalapeño. But if you do want to try something new for Easter, I’d suggest these spice-rubbed poussins (baby chicken). They’re so tender and delicious—better than regular chicken.

Easter Menus

I’m hosting an egg hunt on Saturday for 10 adults and 10 children...I’m clueless for a menu...help!
I wish I could come to your Easter egg hunt! But instead, I will suggest a really lovely braised pork stew. The rhubarb melts into the sauce and gives it a slightly fruity taste—anyone, even kids, would love it. I would suggest serving it with a large batch of mashed potatoes—who doesn’t like that? I make mashed potatoes and put them in a covered casserole, wrap it in newspaper and put it in a large paper bag and they stay hot for over an hour. We also have a wonderful tres leches cake with strawberries that just melts in your mouth. The cake is easily portable. Just serve the strawberries on the side. Happy egg hunting!

I’m hosting a brunch for 15+ people, four are vegetarian and one is vegan. Any suggestions? Still having ham!
For your vegetarian-friendly Easter brunch, I’d suggest this beautiful zucchini soup with crème fraîche (keep the crème fraîche on the table to accommodate the vegan guest.) For a main course, this mushroom-stuffed eggplant is a great party dish: It’s easy to double or triple. Just leave out the butter and Pecorino for the vegan guest. For side dishes, I’d serve grilled asparagus and lemon, and steamed basmati rice with cumin.

Any ideas for a full gluten-free Easter brunch? I suffer from celiac disease and my family has adapted. I would love to wow them on Easter.
You must try this pea and mint frittata. It’s beautiful, with spring colors and a perfect party dish. I’d serve it with fruit salad and a green leaf salad. For dessert, try these very cute brownie bites made with gluten-free flour. Have a great brunch.

We are making kulich and pashka for desserts, any new ideas for either one?
As a substitute for your traditional kulich and pashka, here’s a yeast cake with apricots that serves a crowd and can be made and frozen ahead of time. Good luck!

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