Easter Sunday is one of the most meaningful holidays for me. It is an incredible reminder to me that no matter what my current circumstances may be, I have an eternal hope and a second chance. But more than that, I have a strength that is better than my own… one that is reliable, powerful and renewable.
Because Easter is so meaningful, I have always tried to encompass its meaning in the activities I choose for the day. I usually host a dinner that I love to share with others… people who would not have anyone else to be with on Easter Sunday.
Over the years, my husband and I have had the honor of inviting and hosting members of our military who have been separated from their loved ones as well as many others who have either been rejected, forgotten, or otherwise apart from their families and loved ones. Regardless of the cause, we open our home to actively live out the hope that we are so grateful for.
The menu is always a delight for me. I love to try new recipes and I usually don’t test them before-hand. There is something exciting about trying a new recipe for the first time with guests.
But this year, I am trying something completely different. In honor of the warm weather that has finally come, I decided to grill our Easter Dinner. Since I've never done this, I figured it would be a good idea to do a test run. I was so amazed by the results that I had to share them with you!
The topping comes from a Barefoot Contessa recipe I found years ago. I love the combination of rosemary, garlic, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and salt! Her recipe is fantastic, but I have found a few things helpful:
To make the pork, I start with a full loin. I trim off the extra layer of fascia that coats the meat because it can end up being rubbery after it’s cooked. Then, I cover the entire loin with the topping.
I make the frenched lamb like the pork - I clean the ribs so they don't burn, and top the meat with the topping.
To make the chicken, I find the space between the skin and the meat… toward the legs and cavity end of the bird. While leaving the skin attached, I slowly work the topping between the skin and meat layers. Then, I truss the chicken to ensure even cooking.
I have to admit I was so intimidated to make this on the grill. It really isn’t as hard as I thought it would be, and the flavor is completely worth it… believe me!
I let the meat rest at room temperature while I prepare the charcoal grill. I start a full chimney of natural charcoal and let it start to ash. I also take a disposable 8x8 aluminum pan, place it in the middle of the grill and fill it with water. Once the charcoal is ready, I spread it in an even layer around the aluminum pan. I like to top the coals with wood… today I’m using larger chunks of hickory. I like the larger wood pieces over the chips because I don’t have to soak them in water – I usually forget that step!
I replace the grate & lid, and then I wait for the temperature get to around 350-375. Once it’s hot, I scrub down the grate. The grill is now ready for the meat. I love the sear of the meat hitting the grill! Once the meat is on the grill, cover and let it cook.
Today I decided to make sweet potatoes to go with the pork, so I scrubbed them and wrapped them in foil. I put them on the grill to cook with the meat. While they were cooking, I made one of my favorite toppings for sweet potatoes. I just mixed up ¼ cup chopped pecans, 2 Tablespoons maple syrup and a squeeze of fresh orange juice. Note – using a fresh orange is key!
Around the 90-minute mark I start checking the meat with a thermometer. When it’s close, I pull it off the grill to rest. I use that time to prepare the plates and the sweet potatoes. Can you tell I’m excited… I didn’t even look up to see my husband taking a candid photo!
All that’s left is to serve and eat!
I hope you’ll give the grilled version a try, and I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did. My husband enjoyed eating his plate so much that he couldn’t find words until his second plate was cleaned! From our home to yours, we wish you a happy Easter!
PS - If you're looking for a perfect wine pairing, we loved this meal with a bourbon barrel aged red wine blend. The wine blend wasn't too dry or too sweet, and the smokiness of the pork brought out several layers of flavors in the wine. The one we tried was made by Cooper & Thief Cellarmasters.