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Ham & Lamb

By Kelly Twedell

An Easter feast, be it with family or friends, is often an annual tradition. After turkey for the winter holiday staple, many people enjoy serving lamb or ham as the main dish for Easter. But even serving something more exotic like lamb, does not mean your meal has to be pretentious and fussy. It can still be simple, especially if you plan ahead a bit.

Of course, if you’re not up for all the cooking you can always hire the work out from some of our local businesses, which makes clean-up easier, too.

Keith Gover has been the general manager of the The HoneyBaked Ham Company store in Fayetteville since 1998 and the owner since 2009.

“What’s kept me in this business is the pre-holiday planning,” Gover said. “It’s very detailed and when people are lined up to the door and everything is running like a well-oiled machine, there’s a lot of satisfaction in that.”

With Easter as one of their three busiest times of the year, HoneyBaked Ham stores tend to have three peak days of orders and sales. The bone-in, smoked, fully cooked, ready to eat ham is the most popular item, but they also sell some turkey breasts for Easter, too. To prepare for the holiday traffic, Gover said he hires 20 extra employees and pitches a tent outside in the store’s parking lot, since the lobby is too small to accommodate the rush of customers.

Ham in Coca-Cola, aka “White Trash Ham” (Because you’re not really in the South until you’ve cooked something in a soft drink)

Ingredients: 2 liters of Coca-Cola (or Pepsi) 1 - 5 lb half bone-in ham, partially or fully cooked 1 medium onion, halved 1 cup freshly made bread crumbs 2 cups dark brown sugar 1 Tbsp mustard powder 2 Tbsps Dijon mustard

Instructions: Set aside two tablespoons of Coke, then put the ham in a large pot or Dutch oven, add the onion, then pour the remaining Coke over the top. Bring to boil then cover and reduce to simmer. Let it simmer for about an hour and a half if the ham is partially cooked; one hour if it is fully cooked. A partially cooked ham is done when the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees and a fully cooked ham is done when it reaches 140 degrees.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the ham from the pot but save the cooking liquid. Mix the bread crumbs, brown sugar, mustards and the reserved Coke into a thick paste, then spread the mixture over the ham and place the ham, mixture side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust is just set. Slice and eat. Serve hot out of the oven, or cold on sandwiches.

Feeling adventurous? Try one of these Middle Eastern-style recipes for your Easter dinner:

Breakfast Tagine (Lamb) Recipe

Ingredients: 1 pound ground lamb 2 Tbsp olive oil 1 red onion, finely chopped 1 red bell pepper 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 chorizo, sliced thinly on the diagonal 1 bay leaf 2 tomatoes, deseeded and quartered 2 Tbsp lemon juice 1 Tbsp honey Handful mint leaves, finely chopped 1 cup baby spinach leaves 5 eggs Salt and black pepper Feta cheese Spice mix (blended with 1-2 Tbsp water to make a paste): 1 Tbsp ground cumin 2 tsp ground coriander 2 tsp smoky paprika 1/2 Tbsp chili powder (or to taste) ½ tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roast the red pepper whole for 20-25 minutes until it starts to blister. Remove and let it cool before deseeding and cutting it into thin long strips. Heat the oil in a large, ovensafe pan and sauté the onions until they soften. Add the garlic and sauté briefly before adding the spice mix and cooking for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant.

Add the ground lamb and mix well. If the mixture is too stiff, add 2 Tbsps water to break it up. Otherwise, use the back of the spatula to mash the lamb.

After the meat has been browned and coated in the spices, push it aside and fry the chorizo. Then add the bay leaf, roasted red pepper strips, tomatoes, lemon juice and honey. Mix well and bring to a simmer. Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook on low heat for about 30 minutes. There should be just enough liquid to let it steam and cook gently. Add water if the bottom starts to dry up and stick to the pan, Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Sprinkle with chili flakes if you prefer it more spicy.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. When ready to serve, stir in chopped mint and spinach until just wilted. Crumble some feta cheese over it (optional). Break the eggs over the meat mixture, spacing them out equally. Cover with a lid or foil and roast it in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes, until the whites are just barely set and the yolks are still runny. Remove the lid and serve immediately.

Spring Lamb

Contributed by Mustafa Somar, Owner of Sherefe

Ingredients: 1 good quality leg of lamb Sea salt Freshly ground black pepper 1 large bunch fresh mint 1 clove garlic, peeled Olive oil Organic chicken stock New potatoes, sliced thickly Baby fennel, trimmed and cut in half lengthways Baby carrots, tops trimmed Baby leeks, trimmed Fine or yellow beans, trimmed Asparagus, trimmed

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Using a pestle and mortar, or in a food processor, pound or blend the mint leaves with the garlic, salt and pepper until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil to your mixture. Score the lamb all over and then brush the mixture all over the lamb. Roast in the oven for 1½ hours, brushing with the seasoned oil regularly until the lamb is cooked.

While the meat is resting, remove the fat from the roasting tin. Add the stock to the tin and make a light, flavorful broth by boiling and dissolving the morsels at the bottom.

Cook the potatoes in a large pan of boiling, salted water for five minutes. Add the fennel and carrots and cook for five more minutes. Then add the rest of the vegetables and simmer for an additional five minutes.

Carve your lamb then serve the vegetables in a shallow bowl with the lamb on top and a little broth and mint oil drizzled over.

It’s just not Easter without deviled eggs. This recipe provides the comfort of the classic dish, with a little twist to make it feel new.

Garlic Deviled Eggs

Ingredients 12 large eggs 2 tsps white vinegar 2 tsps olive oil 1 head of garlic 1 cup mayonnaise 2 ozs (1/2 cup) shredded Asiago cheese 1 Tbsp unsalted butter 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

Instructions: In a large pot over high heat, bring eggs, vinegar and enough cold water to cover by 1 inch to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high to maintain a medium boil and cook eggs for eight minutes. Drain and run eggs under cool water. Fill a bowl with cold water, add eggs, and let sit for 20 minutes to cool at room temperature.

Peel eggs and halve lengthwise. Remove yolks and transfer to a medium bowl. Set aside whites on a serving plate. With a fork, break up yolks until fluffy.

Drizzle olive oil over the head of garlic and roast in 350 degrees oven until tender, about 30 minutes. Squeeze the cloves into a bowl and mash.

Add the roasted garlic, mayonnaise and shredded Asiago cheese to the yolks and mix. Fill egg whites with the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until ready to serve.

In a skillet, toss butter with panko bread crumbs until toasted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Garnish eggs with crumb mixture.