The Delicious Ways We Celebrate
Very soon families across the country and around the world will celebrate Easter. Much like turkey and cranberries are popular for the U.S. Thanksgiving feast, Easter has its own set of iconic foods. Roasted leg of lamb or ham dinners, hot cross buns, colorful Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies are all a wonderful part of Easter celebrations.
Roast Lamb? Why Ham?
The roast lamb dinner that many eat on Easter Sunday goes back earlier than Easter to the first Passover of the Jewish people. The sacrificial lamb was roasted and eaten, in hopes that the angel of God would pass over their homes and bring no harm. As Hebrews converted to Christianity, they naturally brought along their traditions with them. In the U.S., however, ham is often a more popular choice at the Easter table. Ever wonder why?
There are a couple of theories, but the most popular is simply one of availability. Historically, before refrigeration, meat animals would be butchered in the fall. The cold temperatures would preserve the meat during processing, and the family could avoid the higher cost of feeding that animal through the winter. By springtime often the rest of the stored meats would have been eaten. The hams, however, after curing all winter, would have developed a full flavor and been the perfect choice for the celebratory Easter meal.
Lamb, the other traditional spring meat, continues to be a popular choice as well — although more popular in Europe and other regions (outside the U.S.) that celebrate Easter. Roast lamb is certainly a fitting choice for Easter as Jesus is often referred to by Christians as the “lamb of God.” Spring lambs offer a fresh, as opposed to cured, option for your Easter meal.
Beyond the Main Course
Looking past the main course, there are many ways to round out the traditional Easter meal. Eggs, spring green vegetables and specialty breads are popular choices.
Eggs have been a symbol of rebirth since ancient times, but it was Mesopotamian Christians who first used them as an Easter food. They were also the first to dye the eggs, bright red, to symbolize Christ’s blood. Today’s dyed eggs are created in a rainbow of colors complete with glitter, swirls and stickers galore. And, as egg decorating became more popular Easter dishes such as deviled eggs were a delicious way to prevent wasting these works of art.
Fresh spring veggies are always welcome at the Easter table. Dishes using roasted asparagus, fresh snap peas, or green beans are especially delightful this time of year.
Specialty breads also make an appearance at Easter, and various versions have been created across different ethnic groups and regions. Hot cross buns, of the popular children’s song, are an Easter favorite in many areas such as Australia, British Isles, Canada, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and some parts of America. They are a small, spiced sweet bun often made with raisins and are marked with glazed cross across the top. Some believe that friends who gift one another with Hot Cross Buns every year are said to remain friends for life.
Wines to Serve with Ham and Lamb
Looking for that perfect wine pairing to serve with your Easter meal of ham or lamb? We’ve got a couple of suggestions – starting with ham. Hams are often prepared with sweeter glazes to balance the saltiness of the meat, and that’s also a good strategy to use when selecting a wine. Choose fresh-tasting wines that have enough sweet fruit to balance the salt in the meat but enough acidity to support the combination. White wine lovers should look to a Riesling or Gewurztraminer. For the red wine lovers, Zinfandel is the best choice. It has a fruit-forward approach with a high enough alcohol content to handle the sweeter flavor profile of the ham. Wine pairings for lamb, be it roast, rack or leg of lamb, need to be able to handle the robust flavor of the lamb. The best strategy here is to select a wine with enough fruit and acidity to compliment but not overpower the lamb. Red wines are the best choice — ones with good fruit and a decent tannin structure. There are many that would fit the bill: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Shiraz — even a red Burgundy, Tempranillo or Malbec.
Glenn’s has You Covered
Whether you prefer ham or lamb (or even beef!) at your Easter table, Glenn’s has you covered. We have a variety of delicious cuts to choose from including bone-in whole or half hams, 100% lean boneless hams, delicious Maple River hams, and boneless or semi-boneless leg of lamb. And, if beef is what you’d like to serve for dinner, we’ve got a great boneless prime rib special for you. And don’t forget the sides! Be sure to stop by our huge deli-counter — stocked with tantalizing side dishes, fresh pasta and potato salads that will help round out that delicious Easter meal and give you more time to enjoy family and friends.