Lamb: Key for Easter menus around boro

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"Lamb is customarily served with mint jelly in the United States and it's greatest popularity is at Easter time."

So says John Mariani in the American Dictionary of Food and Drink (revised edition, 1994).

Looking through the TimesLedger, I notice that The Giraffe in Great Neck (American continental cuisine) offers an Easter menu that includes a spring-like shrimp cocktail and creamy crab soup. But the thrust is steak (t-bone, filet mignon, surf and turf) and fish (swordfish, seafood paella and seafood fra diable.)

Casa Bella in Whitestone offers for Easter roasted leg of lamb, chicken stuffed with prosciutto and mozzarella in a mushroom sauce, seafood and salmon. No ham.

Il Fagino, also in Whitestone, is traditional with "Full Lamb Dinner" in bold face. They go all the way down the bunny trail with an Easter raffle offering Easter eggs as the first (13 pounds), second (6 pounds) and third (2 pounds) prize. Each time you dine, now through Easter Sunday, you receive a free raffle ticket.

Harper's in New Hyde Park begins their Easter menu parade with baked Virginia ham with a pineapple raisin sauce. Then follows barbecue ribs, salmon, prime ribs, filet mignon and eventually roast leg lamb, roast chicken primavera and stuffed fillet of sole with lobster sauce.

Caffe on the Green has as one of its four Easter Sunday dinner menu entrees a roasted, boneless, marinated leg of lamb. And if you eat it all up (or at least doggy bag it for the morrow), you may have an Easter egg for dessert - a praline parfait.

Gebhardt's in Floral Park, an offshoot of Gebhardt's in Glendale, will have its regular menu plus lamb as one of the specials.

Il Caravaggio in Jamaica Estates will similarly feature its usual menu.

Water's Edge on the East River in Long Island City presents an Easter in Provence extravaganza buffet. Their new, French-born chef, Masraoff, was chef/owner of restaurants in Paris and Provence, so it comes naturally. The appetizer array includes black mission figs with duck prosciutto, ratatouille vegetables and poached quail.

The seafood and Mediterranean fish display features Marseilles bouillabaisse and St Tropez bourides. The carving station has stuffed suckling pig whole roast baby lamb and navarin of baby lamb and whole roast moscovy duck with orange sauce. And there's a pasta station. You'll find lamb a-plenty in Greek restaurants here, there and everywhere in Queens.

It's harder to find the ham. The pineapple ring and clove-studded Virginia ham is as passe as a Dior '44 fashion. Back then it appeared in every Swift and Armour ham ad and in every food editorial in every woman's magazine around Easter.

If you're having Easter at home, let me divulge Roger Martin's (a former Queensite noted for restaurant PR in the big city) method of doing a leg of lamb:

Roast Lamb a la Roger Martin

Take a bone in leg of lamb, remove skin. Make slits with tip of small knife over surface. Stuff with slivered cloves of garlic, rosemary and thyme. Coat with lemon juice. Sprinkle profusely with salt and pepper. Brush with olive oil. Place on rack in open, shallow roasting pan. Roast in 500-degree oven for 40 minutes. Don't peek! Turn off heat but do not, no, do not open oven for one hour.

Grilled Lamb Cubes with Lemon Jam

For a new approach, pass with drinks, grilled lamb cubes as prepared on a Weber Grill at the James Beard Foundation's press event to announce the contenders for the top chefs, restaurants, service, sommeliers and cookbooks for the year 2000. Serve bite-size cubes, spearing each with a fresh rosemary sprig and a dabbing of lemon jam.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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