Bake a ham. Score the outer layer of fat on a 12-ish pound ham in a diamond pattern and rub with a mixture of chopped fresh tarragon, minced shallot, course mustard and brown sugar. Stud the ham with cloves and place in a deep roasting pan. Pour half a bottle of white wine into the pan (like a Sancerre or Meursault) and cover the big beast with aluminum foil, seal it up tight, and heat in a 350 degree oven for one hour.
Get two nice roasting chickens and take a butcher’s scissors and cut out the backbone. Flip the chickens over to the breast side and press down with the heel of your palm until you hear bone crack or see that the chickens are splayed out and lying flat. Take a big plastic bag and throw in rosemary sprigs, a couple of cloves of crushed garlic, olive oil, the juice of two lemons (and put the rinds in, too), salt and pepper. Place the flattened chickens in the bag and zip it up. Kind of massage everything around the chicken and refrigerate overnight until you’re ready to roast or barbecue the birds. I don’t know why but I like things smokey for Easter so, here’s another step in the process. Soak a cedar plank in the kitchen sink, either overnight, or for at least four hours before cooking. Place the soaked plank in the bottom of a roasting pan and lay the marinated chickens right on top and roast in a 350 degree oven for about an hour (don’t ever under cook chicken, the temperature at the thigh should reach 165 degrees). Or put the plank directly on your barbecue grill, slap the chickens on top and keep an eye on those butterflied suckers because they cook fast on a hot open fire.
Sides that will go with both:
Sauteed apples and onions. Slice ’em, saute in a couple of tablespoons of butter (it’s a special occasion, it’s not going to hurt you).
And while we’re talking about butter, how about asparagus with fresh Hollandaise sauce? It’s best to make it in the blender so you don’t end up with lemony scrambled eggs and it’s easy. Melt a cup of butter (that’s two sticks) in the microwave or in a saucepan. In the blender whir around four egg yolks, two tablespoons of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Take the center of the blender cap out and pour in a slow stream of the butter with the blender on low. When everything is incorporated you’re done.
Some more suggestions: a big green salad, or chopped bell pepper and fresh corn salad, rolls or some sliced baguette, and for dessert:
Sliced strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries splashed with Tokaji (an ambrosial Hungarian dessert wine) and served in parfait cups.
Or if you’re on a cooking jag, there’s always Schaum Torte.
Happy Spring, and a toast to sitting down to eat with family and friends. Good cheer, good company, and good wishes for the year to come.