Easter dinner should feel like a special occasion, one might even say a holiday!
So why should you have to spend hours and hours slaving away in the kitchen, while the rest of your friend’s and family are hangin’ out?
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could start cooking a little on Thursday, and spread the work out over the next three days?
The Menu: Reverse Seared Garlic and Rosemary Leg of Lamb Potato, Leek, and Asparagus Gratin Strawberry Spinach Salad Petits Pots de Crème au Chocolat
This SimplySmartDinnerPlans special menu features a succulent roast leg of lamb with a simple, savory, and delicious pan-reduction sauce, a decadent gratin that bakes alongside the lamb, and a bright and beautiful spinach and strawberry salad.
A sumptuous (and fun to say) Pots de Crème au Chocolat finishes off a meal that sure to impress, while still allowing you to spend more time with the ones you love. Just remember, these ingredients (see list below) were not included in your weekly shopping list, so you’ll need to swap out a meal if you want to do this.
Okay, here’s the plan…(all recipes, below…) Garlic and Rosemary Leg of Lamb (Prep on Sunday, Cook on Sunday) The leg of lamb takes just over two hours to cook but doesn’t require much attention during that time. Put it in the oven in the afternoon, and you’ll be free to go about other tasks until you take it out and make the sauce just before dinner. Potato, Leek, and Asparagus Gratin (Prep on Saturday, Cook on Sunday) The gratin can be assembled up to one day ahead. Cover and chill it, then take it out of the fridge when you put the lamb in the oven (so it can stand at room temperature for one hour). When the lamb has roasted for one hour and it’s time to uncover it, place the gratin in the oven alongside the roasting pan so both dishes can cook at the same time. By the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.
Strawberry Spinach Salad (Prep on Thursday, Assemble on Sunday) The base for the vinaigrette—the vinegar, sugar, and oil—can be mixed together up to three days ahead. Chill it, covered, then let it stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes before tossing it with the salad.
Petits Pots de Crème au Chocolat (Cook on Friday) Before our present obsession with chocolate mousse, lovers of French cooking were filling individual porcelain pots with intensely rich, dense chocolate custard.
Oh, and if you’re looking for simply (and simple) stupendous make-ahead breakfast/brunch for Easter morning, check out Nana’s Chili Egg Puff!
SUNDAY SCHEDULE (We always serve around 4pm, adjust this schedule to your own liking.)
12:30pm Rub lamb and leave on counter to come to temp 1:30pm Lamb in oven 2:30pm Potato Gratin in oven 3:30pm Lamb out of oven to rest, make pan sauce 3:40: Assemble toss, and chill salad 3:55pm Slice lamb and plate 4:00pm Serve
Reverse Seared Garlic and Rosemary Leg of Lamb Serves up to 12, with leftovers. 1 leg of lamb, bone in (about 6 pounds) 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 8 cloves garlic, minced 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves 1 tablespoon salt 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper Sauce: 1/3 cup chopped fresh rosemary 1/3 cup chopped fresh chives 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley 2 cups diced onions 2 cups chicken stock 1 cup red wine
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Using your hands, rub the lamb all over with the lemon juice. Pat the garlic and rosemary evenly all over the surface of the meat. Season the meat with the salt and pepper and place the lamb in a roasting pan. Place the lamb in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to cook for about 1 hour longer for medium-rare, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the roast registers about 145 degrees F to 150 degrees F (be careful that the thermometer does not touch the bone.)
If possible, pull from the heat at around 140F, and finish on the grill over hot coals (toss a few springs of rosemary on the fire, for an extra punch.)
Remove lamb from pan, or grill, and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.
Position the roasting pan over your stove burners. Add mixed herbs and onions to pan, and stir to combine with pan drippings. Add chicken stock and wine to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to release any fond (that’s a fancy chef word for those yummy brown bits that stick to the bottom of your roasting/frying pan). Reduce over high heat until sauce consistency. Strain before serving, if desired.
Slice lamb and serve with sauce drizzled over the top.
Serve with warmed soft rolls (I like potato rolls) and plenty of sweet cream butter.
Potato, Leek, and Asparagus Gratin 4 Servings 1 pound Yukon Gold or russet potatoes, sliced very thinly 1 leek, white parts only, well-washed and cut into thin rings 1/2 pound asparagus spears, tough ends snapped off, cut into 2-inch pieces 1 1/2 cups cream salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste pinch freshly-grated nutmeg 1 cloves garlic, finely minced 1/2 cup grated good-quality Gruyere cheese
Preheat oven to 400F. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, place the potato slices, leek rings, and asparagus pieces. Add the cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally and very gently with a rubber spatula so the potato slices don‘t fall apart, over medium-high heat until the cream boils.
Pour mixture into a 2-quart baking dish. Wrap tightly in foil and refrigerate until ready to cook. (at 400F)
Removed foil, Sprinkle with the grated cheese. Bake in preheated oven around 40 minutes until top is bubbly and golden, and potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and let sit for about 15 minutes. The dish will thicken slightly as it cools.
Strawberry Spinach Salad 4 Servings 2 tablespoons sesame seeds 1/2 cup white sugar 1/2 cup olive oil 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon minced onion 10 ounces fresh spinach – rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces 1 quart strawberries – cleaned, hulled and sliced 1/4 cup almonds, blanched and slivered In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, sugar, olive oil, vinegar, and onion. Cover, and chill for one hour.
In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries and almonds. Pour dressing over salad, and toss. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
Petits Pots de Crème au Chocolat 4 Servings
Although this marvelous dessert looks very sophisticated, there is no great secret to success. Just start with the right kind of small, heatproof cups and a good-quality French, Swiss or Belgian bittersweet chocolate.
Mix the ingredients following the recipe instructions precisely, then strain the mixture to rid it of any lumps. Baking the filled pots in a water bath provides the gentle, moist heat the custard needs to thicken properly.
1 cup heavy cream 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces 3 egg yolks 2 Tbs. sugar 1 to 2 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat an oven to 325°F. Have a pot of boiling water ready.
In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the cream until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until melted and well blended. Let cool slightly.
In a bowl, combine the egg yolks and sugar. Using a whisk, beat until pale yellow and thick enough to fall from the whisk in a lazy ribbon, about 5 minutes.
Slowly stir in the warm chocolate cream and add the vanilla extract, to taste.
Place six 1/4-cup pot de crème pots with lids or ramekins in a baking pan. Pour the chocolate mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the pots or ramekins, dividing it evenly. Pour boiling water into the baking pan to a depth of 1 inch. Cover the pots with their lids or the ramekins with a single sheet of aluminum foil. Bake until the custards are just set at the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. They should still tremble slightly.
Remove the baking pan from the oven. Place the pots or ramekins on a wire rack, remove the lids or aluminum foil and let cool at room temperature. When cool, cover again and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days before serving.
SHOPPING Meat 1 leg of lamb, bone in (about 6 pounds) Produce 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 8 cloves garlic, minced 1 cloves garlic, finely minced 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves 1/3 cup chopped fresh rosemary 1/3 cup chopped fresh chives 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley 2 cups diced onions 1 pounds Yukon Gold or russet potatoes, sliced very thinly 1 leek, white parts only, well-washed and cut into thin rings 1/2 pound asparagus spears, tough ends snapped off, cut into 2-inch pieces 1 tablespoon minced onion 10 ounces fresh spinach – rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces 1 quart strawberries – cleaned, hulled and sliced Seasonings/Baking 2 Tbs. sugar 1 to 2 tsp. vanilla extract 1 tablespoon salt 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste pinch freshly-grated nutmeg 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces 2 tablespoons sesame seeds 1/2 cup white sugar 1/4 cup almonds, blanched and slivered Canned/Boxed/Bottled/Other 2 cups chicken stock 1 cup red wine 1/2 cup olive oil 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar Dairy 2 1/2 cups cream 1/2 cup grated good-quality Gruyere cheese 1/4 lb sweet cream butter, softened Other 3 egg yolks 8-12 potato rolls Beverage pairings: A subtle Merlot or a firm, acidic Sauvignon Blanc would be nice wine options with this menu. For beer, look towards an American pale ale. Enough hops to cut through the fat without overpowering, and the fruitiness will go well with the gaminess of the lamb. A Belgian pale would bring more sweetness, and spicyness from the yeast and hop.
Personally, I like a thick, inky porter, with just about any red meat…but that’s just me.