Magazine article Sunset

Easter Buffet Is Easygoing

Magazine article Sunset

Easter Buffet Is Easygoing

Article excerpt

EXALTING THE JOYFUL freshness of springtime, this handsome buffet lunch features a menu of simple, wholesome flavors appealing to all ages.

An Easter egg salad on crisp leaves accompanies easy-to-carve butterflied leg of lamb that you stuff into pocket sandwiches. Mellow grilled and raw vegetables make up a second salad, and dessert is sweet strawberries with a choice of crisp cookies and Easter basket confections.

The only last-minute duty is barbecuing the marinated butterflied lamb. It cooks in less than an hour and yields meat of varied degrees of doneness. You can barbecue eggplant for the salad the day before, or about 30 minutes before you cook the lamb. You can also make egg salad the day before, but you might want to wait until after the Easter egg hunt and use some of the find.

Buy or make the biscotti and shortbread. Offer a white or red Zinfandel or a soft Rhone-style red wine; provide chilled raspberry-cranberry juice for children.

Barbecued Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Mint and Pocket Bread

1 leg of lamb (5 to 6 lb.), boned and trimmed of surface fat 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar At least 1/3 cup mint jelly 1/3 cup minced fresh mint leaves Fresh mint sprigs (optional) Salt Pepper Small pocket bread (about 3-1/2 in. wide), or regular pocket bread (about 6 in. wide) cut in half crosswise

Lay meat boned side up. Slash about halfway through thickest portions, as needed, and pull meat, patting cut edges down, to make the piece relatively even.

Place lamb in a 9- by 13-inch pan. In a 1- to 1-1/2-quart pan over medium-high heat, stir vinegar with 1/3 cup mint jelly just until boiling. Stir in mint and pour evenly over lamb. Cover and chill 2 hours or up to a day. Turn meat over occasionally.

On firegrate in a barbecue with a lid, ignite 50 to 60 charcoal briquets. When briquets are dotted with ash, in about 30 minutes, spread them into a single layer; scatter 10 to 12 more briquets over coals. Set grill 5 to 6 inches above coals. Lift meat onto grill; reserve marinade. Put lid on barbecue and open vents.

Turn meat as needed to brown evenly; baste often with marinade. Cook until thickest part of meat is done to your liking; for rare (140[degrees] on a thermometer) in center of thickest part, allow about 40 minutes total. Thinner sections will be well done.

Transfer lamb to a platter and let rest 5 to 10 minutes. Garnish with mint sprigs. Slice meat thin. …

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