Easter is my husband's holiday. He just loves it. He loves that the dogwood are out and the daffodils are up. He loves jelly beans, and will actually eat them--even the black ones. He loves that the days are warm and long and once again he can sit outside and stare mindlessly into the woods from our porch. He loves that he gets to enjoy a great meal and didn't have to buy anyone a present. And this year, more than any other, he loves that after 46 days of Lent, in which he OMG--gave up WINE, he can once again imbibe. The pressure is on to make it a special day.
And so I did. I just spent two solid days getting ready for Easter, and one cleaning up afterward. My hands are raw and sore from polishing, washing, ironing, paring, chopping, and cutting. For kicks and giggles I wore a pedometer; in one day I clocked in at just under 14,000 steps, which is about 5.0 miles, and I never left the house. I am tired--bone tired. My feet hurt so much that they literally awakened me from a dead sleep. I wish I knew what they were screaming, but I think I know anyway. My feet are telling me that I'm a stupid idiot. "Stupid, stupid idiot; next year, buy some Big Macs, Budweiser, and call it a day." Admittedly, my feet have a point.
Aah, but my heart. My heart is telling my feet to simply shut the hell up and remember the day: a day surrounded by my family and the dearest of friends--synonyms perhaps? My heart is remembering that every guest offered to help and contributed to the feast in some way. My heart will remember that my father, who's 79-year-old feet must be much more cantankerous than mine, followed me dutifully around the kitchen anxious to assist however he could. My heart will remember the 2002 vintage reserve champagne that friends brought for my husband to break his Lenten fast, and which he shared with me because, well--I'm his wife. My heart will remember beating the hollandaise until my arm hurt and being gratefully relieved when my oldest daughter took over, who was then in turn replaced at the beating ritual by my youngest daughter, only for my oldest to come back again and ask: "Really, Mom--is this worth it?" And as I watched my husband over her shoulder revelling in his Easter, my heart knew with absolutely certainty--Yes. It's worth it. Truly, utterly, and completely worth it.
Easter Lamb (Gourmet, April 1996, p. 146).
1. Blend the following in a blender to make a paste: 1/4 cup olive oil, blanched lemon zest, 1/4 cup rosemary leaves, 3 large cloves of garlic, 1/2 tsp salt. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut several small slits all over a 7 pound de-boned leg of lamb. Smear the paste all over the lamb, and rub the paste into the slits.
3. Remove the pith (white stuff between the fruit and skin) from two large lemons. Slice the lemon cross-wise, remove any seeds, and arrange the slices in the middle of a large roasting pan. Place lamb in the oven for 45 minutes.
4. Meanwhile cut and quarter about 5 pounds of potatoes. (The actual recipe calls for 2.5 lbs, but I've been making this dinner for 15 years, and that's just not enough.) Cover with one inch of water, bring to a boil, and cook the potatoes for 5 minutes. Drain and toss generously with olive oil (about 1/4 cup).
5. When the lamb comes out of the oven after 45 minutes, arrange the potatoes around the lamb and continue roasting for 55 more minutes.
6. Transfer lamb to a cutting board, and let it stand for 15 minutes.
7. Toss the potatoes in the pan juices, increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees, or set on "broil" and return the potatoes to the oven for about 5 to 10 minutes to get them slightly golden. Transfer potatoes to a serving bowl and toss with about 1/4 cup of freshly cut chives.
8. Slice lamb into servings. The ends will be well-done, and the middle will be rare to medium rare. Serve with potatoes, asparagus and hollandaise sauce on your best china because this is a very, very special day.