Ah, Easter. It’s almost upon us, and the ancient question lurks once more: What to serve for dinner? In our family it was always the same, year after beige year: glazed ham. And, I’m a bit ashamed to admit, the ham came in a can. My mom, who is an excellent cook and knew her way around a side of pork, would nonetheless then open another can, this one pineapple rings, and toothpick the contents to the giant hunk of meat. The crowning glory of our pressed-meat orgy were the stoplight red cherries she fished out of a jar and speared in the middle of the gaping “O” mouths of the pineapples. And even though the ham was fully cooked, it did a tour of duty in the oven for almost an hour.
With memories of those festooned guitar pick-shaped hunks of meat still fresh, so to speak, in my mind, I decided to break with tradition—well, at least mine—this year. I wanted options, for myself and for you. After all, none of us has to be moored to childhood remembrances of holiday food. That’s why we’re offering pork, but in a far different and much more elegant manner than the meal of my youth: baked country ham. And if The Great Can haunts you, as it does me, you’ll find a fantastic—and fantastically simple—rack of spring lamb. Finally, for the adventurous among us, a knockout rabbit confit. This trio we’ve come to refer to as Porky, Lamb Chop, and Bugs.
That’s not to say all Easter traditions—most of which are various little homages to spring—have to be jettisoned. Eggs—deviled, of course—dips, tarts, potatoes, and peas are welcome. They just needed a little makeover. So we sought out the sexiest, so-good-you-want-to-rub-it-all-over-your-body best. And dessert? Nothing but a drop-you-to-your-knees coconut cake. Momma Leite, with all due respect, this Easter dinner’s for you.—David Leite