Easter Dinner – Sticking with the Favorites.

At least, sticking with the same menu I’ve been serving on Easter since I started hosting this holiday in 2006. My brother Steve and his wife Lorraine do Thanksgiving and Christmas. My Steve and I do Easter and July 4th – and now also New Year’s Day. I added that – it is too long between July 4th and Easter. I needed another excuse to clean the house. I am not kidding.

So – Ham. I always get a Cook’s spiral – sirloin end, versus shank end, this year (I am going to stick with the sirloin end from now on so I can use my Dutch oven. More on that later. Chicken Tarragon, Baked Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Asparagus, and, new this year, Mini Crab Cakes for an appetizer to go along with the shrimp that Lorraine and Steve brought and the delightful artichoke dip my long-time friends and upstairs neighbors Lori and Joel brought.

Liz and Joe brought fabulous Matzah ball soup, which I had never had before – I am now a fan! Matt and Liz were going to bring biscuits to serve the chicken over, but apparently the biscuit muse was taking a day off. They brought extra beer instead and I am glad that they did. Here is why:

Have you ever tried Peak Organic IPA? It is superb – VERY bitter, which I love. Thanks Matt and Liz! Now I need to find a local source.

Lisa and Pauline brought a lovely fruit platter, Meggie brought delightful chocolate trifle, and Suzanne is brought wine – she has most excellent taste in wine!!!! and beer. Dave came early and was a big help with last minute setting up.

Lori and Joel, who live upstairs, hosted the egg hunt. We have one every year, whether or not there are children in attendance. In fact, there were no children the first year. It is great fun – very silly. And, it is chocolate!

I managed to plan things so all was pretty much low stress. On Saturday, I borrowed Lori’s big slow cooker and did most of the Chicken Tarragon cooking and prep – de-boning and removing the skin after cooking – and storing the juices separately. I also prepped the potatoes – boiling and then mashing them with cream cheese and other goodies before spreading them in a 9×13 pan and refrigerating overnight.

I bought the asparagus on Friday and left them sitting in water like cut flowers to stay fresh until Sunday.

I also prepped the crab cakes on Saturday – the batter/crab part – leaving the crust part for Sunday.

– I prepped the asparagus after church – easiest recipe in the world! AND, the crab cakes – a la bon appétit magazine. I prepped the rest of the ingredients after church, also – just need to add some butter and panko (breadcrumbs) before baking in mini muffin tins for 30 minutes. They can be cooked and reheated within an hour or two, so I wasn’t concerned about them getting done early. I used my toaster oven/convection oven for them since my oven was still busy with the ham. I have one of those Krupps ovens and I love it! Lori generously provided oven space for the potatoes, which I had simply taken out of the fridge when I got home from church so they would not be cold into the oven at 2:15 p.m.

I reheated the chicken

Appetizer time started at 2:00 p.m. with dinner a bit after 3:00 p.m. and then the egg hunt. THEN dessert.

I had two surprise – and very welcome! – guests – yet another Liz, who has been a close friend of the family for years, and Andrea, Lorraine’s niece. I love a crowd!

Okay – I started this post the night before Easter and had to edit the tense, fix it up and finish it – just didn’t have much time – but here it is, with all its imperfections! AND:

Here are my recipes:

Crabcakes – click HERE for recipe

Cook’s Spiral cut ham – 275 degrees for a few hours, etc. – but I did make a tasty glaze from Cook’s Illustrated – really quick and easy! I’m not providing a link because it is a subscription site, and well worth it, I will add!

Maple-Orange Glaze:
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick, syrupy, and reduced to 1 cup, 5 to 10 minutes; set aside – until ready to glaze.

The potatoes: Click HERE for recipe
Always a hit. This year I used just about 6 lbs AFTER peeling, with half Idaho and half Yukon gold, with a bit more of the other ingredients – 5 Tablespoons butter, ¾ cup half and half, and a bit extra garlic salt.

The Chicken Tarragon: Click HERE for recipe
I used just about 6 lbs of chicken – mix of legs, breast and thigh – bone in and with skin albeit some skin trimmed.
I used 1 plus ½ ingredients in prep, and ended up adding hmmm…maybe two cups chicken stock for the “gravy” and I also added about 2 cups frozen peas when reheating on Sunday before putting it in the crockpot.
Asparagus: Just coat lightly with olive oil and a touch of kosher salt, roast at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, then sprinkle with freshly grated parm cheese. YUM.
Anyway – if I keep re-reading and double-checking, this or actually finish it, I’ll NEVER get around to posting it. So, here it is, albeit a few weeks late…