Thursday, April 5, 2012

What's on your menu for Easter Sunday?

Growing up in Northern Ireland, our family always had Easter Sunday traditions. On Easter Sunday morning, as children we were allowed (at last!) to open our large chocolate Easter eggs that we had been glaring at with envious eyes all week. Those huge globes of chocolaty goodness are a tradition throughout the British Isles and Ireland, and if you stop by a British store, such as the wonderful little 'Corner Shop' on Marietta Square run by my friend Tina, or the equally delightful 'Taste of Britian' over in Norcross owned by my other great friend will see what I mean!

I remember the 'Milk Tray' egg, and the 'Smarties' egg, and the 'Milky Way' egg (with the Milky Way kid on the front), and last but not least the 'Aero' egg. Yummy, yumm yumm in my tumm! Brings back wonderful memories, and if you've never been to Ireland or the UK at this time of year, or been to a British store, you've no idea what I'm talking about do you? Well, ok, check out this photo for a clue:

So, apart from chocolate eggs though...what is on your menu for Easter? Or perhaps you haven't thought about it? Well, here's a suggestion for you....

What about firing up the grill and trying some lamb? Yes, I know, many folks don't do lamb in America...but let me urge you to give it a try, especially at Easter. Here in Georgia we have had unseasonably warm weather. We simply skipped Winter it seems, Spring is more like Summer...and who knows what August will be like so I say we go outdoors this weekend and enjoy it!

Lamb is a flavorful, succulent meat choice and when cooked just right can be a talking point of any meal. This weekend it has added symbolic significance also as millions of Christians around the world celebrate Easter so, what could be more fitting? I just add some of my delicious homemade peach salsa for that Southern touch, and viola!

Happy Easter everyone!

Lamb ingredients (serves 6–8 people):

• 4–6 lbs. boneless leg of lamb (cut into 8 pieces)

Marinade ingredients:

• 6 fl. oz. (¾ cup) natural yogurt
• 2 fl. oz. (¼ cup) Dijon mustard
• juice and zest of 1 lime
• 2 rosemary sprigs (stems removed)
• 2 cloves of garlic
• ½ Vidalia onion
• 1” piece of root ginger (peeled)
• 1 medium red chili pepper (seeds removed)
• 1 tsp. kosher salt
• ½ tsp. ground black pepper

Mint drizzle ingredients:

• Bunch of mint (1½ cups with the stems removed)
• 2 tsp. sugar
• ½ tsp. kosher salt
• 3 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
• 4 fl. oz. (½ cup) olive oil

How to make it:

1. In a food processor or blender mix all the marinade ingredients together to make a smooth paste.
2. Rub the resulting paste all over the cut portions of the lamb and marinade for 4–6 hours or overnight, covered in the refrigerator.
3. Preheat the grill to a high heat.
4. Remove the meat from the marinade and discard the remaining liquid.
5. Place the lamb on the grill and cook on both sides for the first few minutes to sear.
6. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to cook the lamb according to your preference, turning frequently. (The lamb is cooked medium to well after 30–40 minutes.)
7. While the lamb is cooking on the grill, prepare the mint drizzle by placing the mint leaves, sugar, vinegar and salt in a food processor. Pulse in the processor for a few seconds to form a roughly chopped paste, and then slowly blend in the olive oil.
8. Transfer the resulting liquid in to a small bowls and then set aside.
9. When the lamb is cooked according to taste, remove from the grill and let it rest for 10 minutes to allow the juices to settle.
10. To serve, place the lamb in the center of each serving plate then drizzle a little mint dressing onto the plate and spoon some over the meat.
11. Spoon some salsa onto the side of the plate and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Judie the Irish Foodie
(the chocolate egg gobbler!)

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