• Tommy Centola

Liven up Easter with 3 new recipes

Easter is a big celebration in New Orleans. There are usually 3 different parades during the holiday weekend. In the city of parades and celebrations, Easter does not disappoint. Of course, food is also a large part of the holiday.

As a child, my mom would always prepare a wonderful Easter meal. She always made sure we did not eat too much candy out of our baskets, so we would eat dinner. The candy was tempting, but not as tempting as my mom’s cooking. Today, I want to share with you recipes that bring back memories of my childhood, Glazed Easter Ham, Lyonnaise Potatoes and Chewy Pecan Bars.

In my opinion, an Easter meal without ham is incomplete. Growing up, my mom always cooked a ham as the centerpiece of the Easter meal. This recipe is from Louisiana Kitchen and Culture magazine. It is the best magazine for Louisiana recipes.

Glazed Easter Ham

12-15 pound bone-in ham

Whole cloves, as needed (optional)

1 cup fig preserves

2 cups apple cider, or more as needed

1 sprig rosemary`

1 tablespoon Creole mustard

About an hour before baking, remove ham from refrigerator and bring to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Slice the rind off the ham if necessary; score all over in a crosshatch pattern. If desired, place 1 clove in the corner of each crosshatch. Place fig preserves in a small saucepan over low heat; thin with a teaspoon or so of apple cider and stir in Creole mustard. Add rosemary sprig and heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes; remove and discard rosemary sprig. Taste and add additional mustard if desired.

Place ham on a baking rack in a large roasting pan. Brush all over with fig mixture. Pour ¾ cup apple cider in bottom of roasting pan, replenishing as necessary over the course of roasting. Roast until heated through and browned, about 30 minutes.

Transfer ham to a serving platter and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

Place roasting pan over 2 burners set to medium-high; add a cup of cider or water, scrape up any browned bits, and bring to a simmer; cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half and thickened slightly. Taste and adjust seasoning; transfer to a gravy boat and serve with sliced ham.

Lyonnaise Potatoes is a great accompaniment to a baked ham. It’s not a fancy dish, just good down home cooking. Lyonnaise potatoes are often found on steakhouse menus in New Orleans.

Lyonnaise Potatoes

4 large white potatoes

1 stick butter, in all

2 medium onions, coarsely chopped

2 green onions, finely sliced

Salt & pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes or until a fork jabbed into the biggest potato slips out when you lift the potato out of the water. Rinse the potatoes in cool water to stop further cooking. Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Heat 1/2 stick of butter in a skillet over medium-high heat until it bubbles, and sauté the onions until they just begin to brown at the edges. Add the potatoes, the green onions, and the remaining butter to the pan and cook, without stirring, until the potatoes have browned on the bottom. Turn the potatoes over and brown the other side. Add salt and pepper to taste.

A popular candy found in New Orleans Easter baskets is a locally made Pecan Egg. This dessert is a play on this treat. Chewy Pecan Bars are a great alternative to the classic Pecan Pie.

Chewy Pecan Bars

1 (16.5 ounce) package of yellow cake mix

1/2 cup butter, melted

3 large eggs, divided

1 cup dark corn syrup

1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 egg white

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350℉.

Line a 9×13-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine cake mix, melted butter, and 1 egg. stirring until stiff dough forms. Press mixture evenly into prepared pan. Bake 15 minutes or until light brown.

In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining 2 eggs, corn syrup, sugar, egg white, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in pecans, and pour over prepared crust. Bake until filling is set, approximately 20 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut and serve.

These days, a crawfish boil has become the meal of choice for Easter. This year, I will be adding a ham to the meal to bridge yesterdays memories and today’s traditions. Wishing you and your family a very Happy Easter!

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