Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Southern Recipes for a Great Easter Meal Served Up All This Week

This week, I'm dishing out some truths about myself along with some tried and true recipes to make your Easter Dinner a huge success.

I hope you enjoy them both.

All the best...

Carrie Sinclair

Although my boyfried Tyler tried to be the man I needed him to be, we were worlds apart in what we wanted from each other. Tyler’s father, and the family real estate business, came first for him. It soon became apparent I was not the woman Richard Bennedict pictured for his son either. Oh, there were moments of hope that kept me hanging on. Like the Christmas, we spent together in Colorado.

But mostly there were doubts, long nights alone, and more questions than answers. It became painfully clear I would never be more than a tiny part of Tyler’s world. This all came into focus after Aunt Mable passed away. Tyler was there for a while, playing the supportive boyfriend role, but when I sent him home and sat down to think about our future, I knew it was over. I stayed with Tyler until I could no longer accept our relationship on his terms. Over and over, I kept replaying the last conversation I’d had with my aunt. I’d told her about all my concerns with Tyler. She’d told me not to settle. I knew if I stayed with Tyler I would be settling.

Enjoy a special Easter dinner at home. Our recipes for Ham Baked with Herbs and Scalloped Potatoes will help you create a spectacular feast for your entire family.
If you're still undecided about what to make for Easter dinner this year, why not try our recipes for Ham Baked with Herbs and Scalloped Potatoes. You can reward everyone who helped decorate eggs and prepare Easter baskets with a special dinner to celebrate the beginning of spring and the Easter holiday.

Ham Baked with Herbs
Serves 16

1 18-pound fresh ham
12 garlic cloves
1 bunch rosemary
1 bunch basil
1 bunch thyme
5 fresh bay leaves
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch chives
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch oregano
1 orange, cut into thick slices
1 lemon, cut into thick slices
1 bottle of dry white wine
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

2. With a boning knife, trim off all but 1/4 inch of fat from the ham, leaving about 4 inches of rind around the shank. Using a paring knife, make small incisions in the meat, about 1/2 inch deep and about 1/4 inch apart.

3. Peel 6 of the garlic cloves and slice them lengthwise. Insert the garlic cloves with alternating sprigs of rosemary, basil, thyme and bay leaves. The herbs and garlic should almost cover the meat. Lightly sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper. Crush the remaining cloves of garlic, leaving them in their peels, and set aside.

4. Line a large roasting pan measuring at least 6 inches high and 16 inches in diameter with aluminum foil. Layer the chives, parsley and oregano on the bottom and sides of the pan. Reserve some of the herbs for garnishing the finished ham. Place the orange and lemon slices on top of the herbs. Place the ham in the roasting pan with the crushed cloves of garlic and gently pour the entire bottle of wine around the meat. Bake for 30 minutes and then cover pan loosely with aluminum foil. Continue to cook for another 5 hours, basting the meat with the pan juices if necessary. Remove the foil for the last 30 minutes of cooking to lightly brown the ham.

5. When the ham has finished cooking, remove it from the roasting pan to a carving board and allow it to rest, loosely covered with aluminum foil, for about 30 minutes before slicing.

6. While the ham is resting, strain the cooking juices from the roasting pan through a sieve into a saucepan, reserving the orange and lemon slices. Add them to the juices. Over medium heat, allow the juice to boil gently and reduce by half. Skim off the fat and strain the liquid again to remove the orange and lemon slices. Serve hot with the ham on a large platter, garnished with the reserved herbs.

Scalloped Potatoes
Serves 14 to 20

3 pounds yellow potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1 clove garlic
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
5 ounces freshly grated Cheddar cheese
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. In a large saucepan, combine the sliced potatoes and milk, and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the potatoes just begin to become tender, about 3 minutes.

3. Place a colander over a large bowl and drain the potatoes, reserving the milk. (You should have 2 cups of thick, starchy milk. If the potatoes have absorbed more than 1 cup of milk, you must add enough milk to bring the reserved milk mixture volume to 2 cups.)

4. Butter a 3 1/2 quart oval casserole dish with the butter. Rub with the clove of garlic. Arrange the sliced potatoes in the casserole in 2 layers and season with salt and pepper to taste. Dot with the remaining butter and pour in the reserved cooking milk and cream. Scatter the grated cheese over the top.

5. Place the casserole in the lower third of the oven and bake until the cheese has turned a deep golden brown and the milk has reduced and thickened, approximately 90 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Related Links
For more Easter recipes, see Michael Vyskocil's article "Eggs for Easter" in the April 2007 issue of Home Cooking magazine.

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