The North and the South eat differently on Easter, says Chef Sandy Davis. At the heart of the matter is one key question: lamb or ham? “In the North, especially the East Coast, people expect to see lamb on the menu, but in the South, if there’s not ham, it’s just not Easter,” he says. “Because many people have been abstaining from meat during Lent, Easter usually features meat at the center of the meal, no matter what the region, and eggs often make a strong appearance, too. It’s a protein-heavy holiday.”
Davis is a culinary professional whose North-South observations carry the weight of authority, since he was once an instructor at the TSTC Culinary School in Abilene, Texas. As he tells the story, he “bought a one-way ticket to New York and never looked back.” He held a number of chef jobs, most notably at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in the West Village. Davis won the premiere episode of Food Network’s “Chopped,” and these days he heads up Roxo Events, located on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
Sides to complement
Depending on which proteins you’re serving this Easter, Davis encourages a slate of sides that are complementary to the main protein. “A Southern Easter meal traditionally includes sweet potatoes, asparagus and – always – deviled eggs,” Davis says. “If you’re serving lamb, you might want to consider sides like fiddlehead ferns, roasted red potatoes, mushrooms, or other tiny, spring-inspired vegetables.”
“Here on the East Coast, we love to finish an Easter meal with Boston Cream Pie, a yellow butter cake filled with custard or cream and topped with chocolate glaze,” Davis says. “I think people respond well to custards and meringues on this holiday, because they seem so light and springlike. When I was growing up, my grandmother always had coconut cream pie or chocolate cream pie for Easter dessert. She made her crust with lard, and it was the flakiest ever.”
“I always compare Easter to Thanksgiving, because it’s one of those holidays where the food choice is deeply personal, often tied to family connections and roots,” Davis says. “My personal favorite dining spot on Easter is a traditional country club, preferably a Southern buffet. I swear they have the best brunches.”
Sister Schubert’s® Rolls are a convenient warm-and-serve accompaniment to lamb, ham, or any Easter main dish. Made without preservatives and with zero grams of trans fats, the rolls are baked to perfection and then frozen fresh, giving you a zero-waste option with authentic homemade taste. Try this recipe on your Easter brunch menu: Sister Schubert’s Breakfast Sandwich.
Chefs from L.L. Dent and Limani restaurants weigh in on the ham or lamb debate, with recipes, in this article from the Chicago Tribune