I always look forward to the Easter holiday. It was Christmas when the family got together last all three generations and five families crowded into one house. Now with nice spring weather, its time to move the party outdoors.When it comes to Easter entres, more often than not its ham or lamb. Here are some tips for the savvy shopper.HamBone-in hams are cured in their natural state so they tend to have superior flavor and texture, but more waste than boneless. Boneless hams are trimmed by hand and then pressed into shape, making them easy to serve and virtually waste free.Ham can vary in price from about $1 per pound to well over $20 per pound for imported specialty hams and price is a reflection of style, quality and water content. The following chart is a guide to styles and labeling definitions.Understanding ham Dry Cured Hams weigh less than their fresh weight. This is a wide category including Smoked Hams, Country Hams, Prosciutto and Spanish Jamon. Ham has no added water weight. These are wonderful, full-flavored, old-fashioned hams, and not very common. Natural Juice Ham can have up to 3 percent added water by weight. These hams are usually quite delicious and offer good value for the price and quality. Good availability. Water Added Ham can have up to 10 percent added water by weight. Usually poor in quality, these are common offerings in grocery and discount stores. Ham and Water Product hams usually have from 25 percent to 50 percent added water by weight. While the prices are appealing, the hams are not. Widespread availability.LambThe worlds finest lamb is raised right here in Colorado. Look for Colorado Spring Lamb (young lamb) with a USDA grade of Choice or higher; ideally from a butcher that has aged it for 7-10 days.The most popular Easter lamb cuts are legs and racks. Your butcher can cut you a whole or half leg of lamb, and can remove some or all of the bones, or even butterfly (flatten) it for grilling. Lamb racks are comparable to beef prime rib, only much smaller. Racks can be roasted or grilled individually, or your butcher can tie two together to form a festive crown roast.Easter is a great family holiday, and just the excuse we need to bring the gang together. Here are some tasty ham and lamb recipes that will knock their socks off! Buon Appetito Salte! Chef Mick Rosacci, Tonys Meats & Specialty FoodsChef Michael Angelo (Mick) Rosacci and family own and operate Tonys Meats & Specialty Foods and Tony Rosaccis Fine Catering in Littleton and Centennial. More recipes at http://www.TonysMarket.comGlazed Ham with Pecan Crust 10-pound bone-in ham, approximate2 cups apple cider1 cup light brown sugar1 TBS Dijon mustard11⁄2 cups finely chopped pecansPreheat oven to 325 degrees. Place ham in baking dish and pour cider over. Roast, basting with cider every 30 minutes to an internal temperature of 120-140 about 2 to 2 1⁄2 hours.Meanwhile, combine brown sugar, mustard and pecans. Remove ham from oven during the last 40 minutes and firmly pat the sugar pecan mixture all over the ham. Return to oven and continue roasting until crust is brown and ham is done. Slice and serve with sauce. Some of the topping falls into the sauce, making it the perfect accompaniment to ham. Makes 20 to 25 servings.Raisin-Apricot Glazed Ham 8-pound whole boneless hamone 18-ounce jar apricot preserves2 ounces slivered almonds1⁄2 cup raisins2 TBS lemon juiceFor glaze, stir together preserves, almonds, raisins and lemon juice. Place ham in a shallow roasting pan. Bake in a 325 degree oven to 120-140 degrees about 2 hours. Spoon glaze over ham once or twice during the last 30 minutes of cooking time. Slice thinly to serve. Serves 24 plus.Glazed Ham with Pineapple-Raisin Sauce5-pound cooked boneless ham1 can (6 ounces) frozen pineapple-orange or pineapple juice concentrate3 TBS maple syrup3 TBS white balsamic vinegar1⁄4 tsp. dried thyme, crushed1⁄3 cup finely chopped onion1 TBS butter11⁄4 cups water3⁄4 cup golden raisins1⁄4 cup maple syrup1⁄2 teaspoon dry mustard1⁄4 cup white balsamic vinegar4 tsp. cornstarchHeat oven to 325 degrees. Place ham on rack in shallow roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, for 11⁄4 hours, until internal temperature is 140 degrees about 15 minutes per pound.In small saucepan, combine half of the juice concentrate, 3 tablespoons maple syrup, 3 tablespoons vinegar and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce to low and simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Baste ham with glaze the last 15-20 minutes of baking. Remove ham from oven, slice and serve with Pineapple-Raisin Sauce. Serves 15-18.Pineapple-Raisin SauceIn a medium saucepan, saut onion in butter until tender. Add remaining juice concentrate, water, raisins, maple syrup and mustard. Stir together 1⁄4 cup vinegar and cornstarch; stir into raisin mixture. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more.Pepper & Herb-Crusted Lamb Rack4 lamb racks11⁄2 TBS olive oil1 garlic clove, minced1 TBS black pepper; coarse crushed1 TBS fresh chervil (or parsley), minced1⁄2 tsp. rosemary; dried1⁄2 tsp. coarse salt1⁄4 tsp. thyme; dried Pat lamb dry and brush all over with oil. Combine garlic, pepper, chervil, rosemary, salt and thyme. Rub into lamb; cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.Set shallow roast pan in oven and preheat to 475 degrees. Place lamb racks in pan fat side up and roast for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and roast another 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 120-130 degrees. Transfer to cutting board and let stand, covered with tent of foil, for 5 minutes. Carve between ribs to serve.Garlic/Herb Leg of Lamb1 cup olive oil1⁄2 cup California Zinfandel2 TBS balsamic vinegar1 TBS fresh oregano, chopped1 TBS fresh rosemary, chopped6-10 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed1 onion, 1⁄2-inch slices1 butterflied leg of lambCombine first 7 ingredients to make marinade. Place in a plastic bag with butterflied lamb for at least 2 but no more than 24 hours.Cook fat side first over medium-high coals until nice and brown, about 9 minutes. Turn, cover and reduce heat. Cook over low coals until desired internal temperature is reached (approximately 15-25 minutes), turning as necessary. Grill onion slices.Salt and pepper lamb just before carving. Arrange onion slices on a platter and place carved lamb and juices on top. Serve immediately.Silence of the Leg O Lamb1 sirloin end leg of lamb, boned, and trussed 4 cloves garlic 8 fresh mint leaves 1 TBS brown sugar 1 TBS kosher salt 2 TBS black pepper 5 TBS strong mustard, such as Dijon 2 TBS canola oil 2 sprigs fresh rosemaryRoughly chop the garlic cloves in the food processor. Add the mint and repeat. Add the brown sugar, salt, pepper, mustard, and oil and blend to a paste. Spread the paste evenly on the meat side of the roast. Roll the leg into a roast shape and tie with cotton butchers twine. Fire 2 quarts (1 chimneys worth) of charcoal (natural chunk is best). When charcoal is lightly covered with gray ash, split the coals into 2 piles and move them to the far sides of the cooker. Close the lid and allow the grate to heat. Then, place the lamb, skin side up, on the middle of the hot grate. Add the rosemary sprigs to the charcoal briquettes and close the lid and grill. After 20 minutes, flip the roast and rotate it 180 degrees. Insert the probe thermometer into the roast and continue to grill until it reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the roast at 135 degrees. Remove the butchers twine from the roast. Cover with foil and rest it for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 6 Alton BrownMint Pesto for Lamb2 TBS olive oil 2 cloves garlic, peeled 1 cup fresh mint leaves, cleaned and stemmed 1⁄3 cup pecans 1⁄4 cup olive oil 3 TBS grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese Combine olive oil and garlic cloves in a food processor; puree until smooth. Add mint, pecans, olive oil and cheese. Blend just until combined. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes about 3⁄4 cup.
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