Easter Dinner

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Here are some fun recipes to shake up the normal Easter dinner – I don’t know about you, but i get sick of the same salt lick of a ham each and every year. This meal blends some classic winter flavors with bright grilled lamb to welcome you fully to the resurgence of spring.

Lamb Kofta with Coriander Raita, yield: 4 servings

Kofta is a family of foods consisting of ground up or minced meat, seasoned and made into meatballs, patties and/or meatloaf.  Kofta recipes can be found originating from the Middle East to Southern Asia, and while 85% of the recipes I’ve come across are meat-focused, there are a handful of Indian recipes that substitute paneer, potato or starchy plantain to be vegetarian.

The protein used can be beef, lamb, pork, mutton, poultry and/or blend. I personally love the flavor of good clean lamb, but pork’s ability to take on flavor is unmatched and the gamey taste of lamb can turn people off, so, in the end, I like to use a blend of lamb and pork: This way I get the strong clean flavors I want of the lamb and spices, but can easily please a hesitant crowd.

Then, we eat this with Raita, a cucumber-yogurt sauce that dances with the spiced lamb on your palate and creates a subtle tingle of love and harmony in your soul.

Recipe for Lamb Kofta

Ingredients:

1 1/4lbs ground lamb

1lb ground pork

1/2c packed Fresh basil, medium chop

1 lemon, zested and zest chopped fine

1t cinnamon, ground

1t black pepper, ground

1t cumin, ground

1t clove, ground

2T onion powder

2T garlic powder

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2c breadcrumbs

2t salt

Directions:

Preheat grill, fire up coals or warm oven at 450F (these are best grilled over charcoal or wood).

In a non-reactive mixing bowl or kitchen aid mixer combine meats, spices, salt, zest, eggs and then breadcrumbs.  Mix until spices are fully incorporated and spread evenly through the mixture.  Then fold in basil.  

It would be good to let this mixture sit for 1-2hrs in the refrigerator to help the flavors bloom before cooking.  You don’t want it to sit too long otherwise the salt will begin to cook the meat.  

Once the desired time has passed, form a meat log over skewers, meatballs, or patties.

Place these on the grill with direct high heat and cook for 4-5mins on each side, or until cooked to medium well. Be sure to be gentle – until the meat is cooked it can be a little fragile and fall off the skewer.  

Serve on or off the skewer while still warm with my herb fresh Coriander Raita. Recipe as follows.

Recipe for Coriander Raita, yield: 1 pint

Ingredients:

1pt full fat Greek yogurt

4ea garlic cloves, finely minced

1bu cilantro, chopped

1ea medium tomato, concasse

1bu mint, chopped

2T coriander, toasted and ground

2t cumin, toasted and ground

1ea English cucumber, diced, but seeds removed

1ea lime, juice and zest

TT salt

Directions:

Place cucumber in a colander, and sprinkle with salt. Toss well; drain for 30 minutes.  

Then place all ingredients with the salted cucumbers into bowl and fold together.  

Season with salt.  Taste.

Does it need more salt? Can you taste all of the ingredients?

Eat with lamb, chicken, naan, pita or whatever your little heart desires.

Store refrigerated in an air tight container for up to 3 days.

 

And how about some side dishes?

 

Spicy Cauliflower Gratin, yield: 8 servings

This is a great side to add some depth to Easter dinner. And, added bonus: It’s quite simple to make, but will impress even the most discerning of diners.

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower, broken into small florets

1ea large yellow onion, julienne

1ea fennel bulb, julienne

3ea garlic gloves, minced and covered in grapeseed oil

1cup breadcrumbs

1/4c fresh thyme, chopped

1c aged white cheddar, grated

1c heavy cream

1c vegetable stock

1/4c flour

TT salt/black pepper

2T crushed red pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a non-reactive mixing bowl; mix breadcrumbs, garlic in oil and a pinch of salt.  Stir until fully incorporated and reserve.

In non-reactive pot; place 2T unsalted butter, cauliflower, onion, fennel, thyme, heavy cream, stock, flour and cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until veggies are tender.  Place into 8inx8in Pyrex baking dish.

Cover with seasoned breadcrumbs.

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until breadcrumbs have browned and gratin is bubbling. Serve hot.

 

Brussels sprouts w/ bacon & apple cider vinegar, yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1lb Brussels sprouts cut in half

1/4lb bacon, rendered crisp and roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3T apple cider vinegar

TT black tellicherry pepper/sea salt

2T grapeseed oil

Directions:

Place non-reactive stainless steel sauté pan or cast iron pan on medium high heat.  Once pan is hot, add Brussels sprouts and grapeseed oil.  Toss them a few times to fully coat with oil, salt and pepper.  Once they are seasoned, use a tongs and make sure the Brussels are cut side down to get maximum caramelization.  You also need to make sure there is enough space in the pan for all the Brussels to be cut side down.  So make sure you have a big enough pan or do them in batches otherwise your pan will not retain the heat needed and the Brussels won’t be delicious and roasted.  

Once the Brussels are in the pan, let them sit and sizzle for 4-8 minutes without fussing with them.  If the pan is too dry the Brussels will dry out and not be crispy, so if the Brussels soak up all the oil, then add more!   

Once you have a nice and crispy Brussels sprout situation, add the garlic for 2 mins, remove from heat, add cider vinegar to deglaze and toss in bacon.  Taste the Brussels.  Are they a bit salty tangy and crunchy? Good. No one likes mushy bland Brussels sprouts. Serve warm, room temperature or cold.  

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Born and raised in the suburbs of Saint Paul, MN, Brandon has immersed himself into being a local and sustainable advocate for delicious living. Working for the best Chef’s in the Twin Cities before becoming the Residence Chef at the Minnesota Governor’s Residence and personal Chef for the Zimmern family. Foraging, eating, parenting, writing, cycling, consulting, catering and hosting pop up dinners are what his free time entails.