With Easter not far away, now is the perfect time to start thinking about what you will be cooking on the day when you entertain family and guests. One of the main festive and religious periods of the year, Easter Day will fall on Sunday the 31st of March during 2013, giving you just over two weeks to prepare.
As this time is associated with family, one of the main factors that stops people from cooking is the belief that they will ruin the meal for everyone. However, with a decent amount of preparation and patience, you can create the perfect finished dish for all those hungry stomachs.
To make this process a little bit easier for you, we take a look at how you can cook up a real treat this Easter.
The Main Meal
Although you may look to prepare a cooked breakfast or warm up a starter, the oven will get most usage when it comes to the main meal. Traditionally, roast lamb is the preferred favourite, but if you want to break free from tradition, then chicken could be an alternative for your Easter feast. As many of you are likely to go for lamb, here’s a little guide on how to get the best out of your oven when preparing a mouth-watering meal.
As we’ve said many times before, preparation is key. It’s easy to remember this sentiment by telling yourself if you fail to prepare then you prepare to fail. So with this in mind, always allow yourself enough time. The last thing you want to do is tell your guests to sit down, only to remember that your lamb joint is still in the freezer.
Using the Oven
Although many of you will be cooking for varying numbers, serving for eight as an example will take around 20-30 minutes preparation time and two hours to cook the lamb. First of all, heat to 160C (140 for a fan oven) or gas mark 3 depending on your oven. As it’s Easter and luxury food should be at the top of your agenda, you may wish to add a delicate taste of garlic or rosemary. To do this, use a sharp knife to create the incisions at the top of the lamb and place a small cutting or sprig of garlic or rosemary in each one.
Use a roasting tin that’s large enough for the joint to sit in and that doesn’t have shallow sides to stop any fats spilling over once you take the lamb out of the oven. In the tray, place cut vegetables, bay leaves and a decent serving of olive oil before adding the joint on top. A splash of wine can also help with flavouring and once you’re done, cook the lamb between 2 hours and 2 hours 15 minutes depending on how well-done you like it.
Once time is up, you should remove it from the oven, place the tin on a suitable surface, cover the joint with foil and then let it rest for 45 minutes or so. After this, you will be ready to serve the meat up to your awaiting guests.
Before and After
If you’ve frozen the meat, always ensure that it is fully defrosted before cooking. You don’t want your guests to leave with the symptoms of food poisoning, so take care when preparing and heating the lamb.
With all the fats and oils that result in cooking a large meat joint, you should always ensure that you take the time to clean your oven afterwards. Never do this straight away as firstly, there is a meal to enjoy and secondly, the oven obviously requires a good few hours to cool down sufficiently. Avoid using caustic soda in any cleaning products too, as this can cause damage to the skin and also the interior of your oven. The best cleaning products will be able to remove the build-up of grease and fatty deposits, leaving your oven gleaming.
To find the best products, always search for the Vitreous Enamel Association badge, which indicates that the product has been checked first and is safe to use for your oven. Cleaning should be done with a cloth or a brush that won’t scratch the surfaces. Wired brushes can cause damage to the surfaces of your oven, so be sure to use the most suitable cleaning products and utensils for the job.
So, whether its lamb, chicken or another joint of meat that you will be cooking this Easter, always make sure it’s defrosted, cooked thoroughly, and that your oven is given a thorough clean once it’s cooled down. The end result will be a meal you can enjoy and an oven that stays free from grime and the build-up of dirt.
Easter Eggs from Flickr
Roast Lamb from Flickr
Dirty Dishes from Flickr