When it comes to the holidays, the stress and the mess of cooking for a large group of friends and family can be too much to handle. The kitchen, a natural gathering point for guests and virtually any function, quickly becomes unmanageable as the oven and burners quickly become overloaded and the counters are covered with countless dishes in progress.
This Easter, like so many holidays before it, our family will be taking the majority of our dishes outdoors where guests can gather without crowding the chef and the kitchen mess can be kept to a minimum. Fire up the grill and suddenly the cooking process becomes part of the holiday celebration, bringing guests together in arguably the most social of all cooking processes.
Dishes that were once ordinary are suddenly made extraordinary via live fire cooking, adding a depth of smoky flavor that couldn’t possibly be accomplished with four burners and a self-cleaning oven. In order to get your outdoor Easter celebration started on the right foot, I’ve assembled a few quick tips to creating the perfect grilled holiday meal, as well as recipes for a few of Grilling.com’s favorite festive dishes.
It wouldn’t be Easter without some eggs, and in the South that means a big old batch of deviled eggs to start off the holiday meal. Give this classic starter a much needed facelift by smoking the eggs for approximately two hours on the grill at 225 degrees, then filling with your favorite blend of deviled egg fillings.
Ham it up
Pre-smoked bone-in hams are the center piece at most Easter meals but the flavor, more often than not, is lacking in these cryo-vacuumed, mass-produced pork products. The addition of a flavor-packed injection and glaze, however, when coupled with a low-and-slow session on the grill, produces a double smoked ham that’ll keep guests begging for more.
Lamb Bam Thank You Ma’am
Leg of lamb is by far my favorite dish to prepare for Easter dinner. While oven roasting does a fine job with this flavorful cut of meat, the searing heat and smoke of a grill take it to a whole new level. Boneless leg of lamb works particularly well on the grill, allowing it to cook much quicker over the open flame while ensuring just the right mix of medium-rare to medium-well done slices for your guests.
Few side dishes are simpler to create than grilled seasonal vegetables. Beets, for example, can be grilled whole until they are fork tender and the peel is lightly charred. Once done, the skin will come off easily with your hands. Simply slice and serve with a drizzle of olive oil and finishing salt. Asparagus, meanwhile, is tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then grilled for approximately five minutes until it begins to soften and is lightly charred. Drizzle with more oil or create a simple compound butter with a few tablespoons of butter, finely minced lemon zest, and fresh herbs.
Pizza stones are a great addition to any grillers arsenal of tools, creating an even, radiant heat that is perfect for baking dinner rolls on the grill, full loaves of bread, or desserts. At our house, we like to toss peaches or sliced apples with a little cinnamon and sugar, cook them for several minutes in a grill basket until they begin to caramelize, then put them in a preformed pastry crust and finish the fresh fruit pie on the pizza stone.