Read more about Rebekah's early Easter feast here.
Over two French doors in my kitchen hangs a sign that reads, “Good wine, good friends, good times.” That couldn’t have described the scene around my table more on the cool and rainy Tuesday night we had earlier this week. I’d invited a few of my closest friends to my early Easter feast, where we would dine on roasted lamb with mint chutney and farm-style side dishes hailing from the soil of Screven County.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve eaten ham on Easter Sunday, as I’m sure many of you will do after church today. Ham has never done me wrong. However, since November, I’d had a 4-pound leg of lamb sitting in my freezer, just waiting for its moment to shine. The time had come to break out my roasting pan and roll up my sleeves to learn something new. This would be my first time cooking lamb and only my second to taste it. I began preparations early in the week, taking the lamb out to thaw two days in advance, setting the table on my lunch break that Tuesday and visiting the farmers market for seasonal vegetables to serve with the main course. I had in mind squash casserole, but when I visited the market, bundles of bright orange carrots, turnips and a basket of green snap peas from a local farmer named Ricardo of Poor Robin’s Produce caught my eye. I took them home and washed them, then chopped the turnips in chunks. I left the carrots whole for roasting and, at the farmer’s advice, blanched the peas to bring out their beautiful green color. To accompany my vegetables, I made rosemary mashed potatoes. The perfect meal was born.
But wait! I needed dessert. Sitting on my counter was a bowl full of bright green Granny Smith apples, and it just so happened that I had a store-bought pie crust in my refrigerator. I peeled and sliced the apples, then mixed them up with equal parts of granulated and brown sugars, lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of flour and a pinch of salt. I added the apples into the crust, dotted the open-faced pie with butter, and after baking in the oven for 30 minutes at 325 degrees, dessert was done.
The lamb tasted roast beef-like in flavor, bold, succulent and meaty. Before roasting it, I’d made slits throughout the meat where I inserted little slivers of fresh garlic, then massaged in a good quality extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. At medium well, it took the showstopper a total of one hour and 20 minutes to cook. Every 20 minutes, I’d rotate the pan and baste the lamb in its own juices. A special addition to the meal, served alongside the meat was a mixture of fresh mint, minced onion, distilled white vinegar, cayenne pepper and salt chilled to make chutney.
My guests were impressed that I’d made it from scratch, but I couldn’t take full credit: The recipe had come paper-clipped to the bag of fresh mint I’d purchased from the herb lady at the Mainstreet Statesboro Farmers Market. As we ate and talked, we sipped on Robert Mondavi’s Malbec red wine, the perfect pairing of meat and drink.
Easter Sunday holds great memories for me. When I was growing up, and still to this day, I get a new Easter dress every year. I know there will be many children today, like me, who during the egg hunts will search high and low for the prized money egg. I always anticipate sitting around the table with my family over good food, celebrating our faith and time together. As I prepared the lamb for my friends, I couldn’t help but consider the symbolism of the holiday, with Jesus being the lamb that was slain and the holy Lamb of God. On this Easter Sunday, it’s my prayer that your tables are full, surrounded by all the ones you love.
Be sure to visit SomeKindaGood.org for full recipes and photos of my Easter feast. Happy Easter, from my table to yours.
Rebekah Faulk is a Georgia food writer and Statesboro-based TV personality. A Season 2 contestant on ABC's “The Taste,” she blogs at SomeKindaGood.org, a Southern, coastal food blog highlighting East Coast restaurant reviews and Low Country-inspired recipes. Follow her on Twitter at @SKGFoodBlog or search Facebook for Some Kinda Good.