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Easter Dinner Menu and Wine Pairing

easter dinner photo with colored eggs ham and brussel sprouts

Are you a ham or lamb family? Does your Easter crowd like hot crossed buns or an Italian Easter bread? This Easter, we're exploring the classics as well as two Croatian recipes from Chef Johnny Sheehan of Salt Raw Bar + Fine Cuisine and Leena’s Kitchen in Plymouth Mass. Check out the recipes below:

10 classic Easter dishes and wine pairings

Looking for wines to pair with those Easter classics? You can't go wrong with an Italian Pinot Noir or German Riesling. If you're looking to create an elevated wine experience, here are our picks for dishes like deviled eggs, glazed ham, and carrot cake:

  1. Eggs for decorating (then turn them into deviled eggs) & Prosecco

  2. Glazed ham & Riesling

  3. Leg of lamb & Pinot Noir

  4. Scalloped potatoes or potatoes grand mere & Chardonnay

  5. Honey-glazed carrots & Grüner Veltliner

  6. Roasted asparagus & Sauvignon Blanc

  7. Purple cabbage salad or slaw & Gewürztraminer

  8. Hot crossed buns & Cabernet Franc

  9. Italian Easter bread & Pinot Gris

  10. Carrot cake & Malbec

In our quick search for fun Easter-themed recipes, we found some really adorable Easter bunny bum cakes decorated with shredded coconut, rice cereal treats shaped into bird nests to hold chocolate eggs, and strawberries dipped in white chocolate dyed orange to camouflage them as carrots. Don’t be afraid to get creative this Easter – if a dish turns out bad, it can be easily forgiven with a good class of wine.

easter lamb

2 Croatian Easter recipes by acclaimed chef

Chef Johnny Sheehan of Salt Raw Bar + Fine Cuisine and Leena’s Kitchen in Plymouth, MA, uses multiple parts of the animal and multiple cooking techniques to create his lamb assiette. The dish is comprised of three many components – the tenderloin, strip loin, belly, plus the bones for broth. The tenderloin is pan-seared and basted with butter. The strip loins are rubbed in a compound butter of roasted garlic, pureed anchovy filets, shallot, fresh herbs of thyme and rosemary, and dried mushroom powder. The bones are roasted and made into a stock with wine, tomato paste, herbs, spices and mirepoix. Then, the belly is fried.

In the restaurant, each plate gets a portion of tenderloin, seared strip loin, fried belly, and a serving of blitva na leso (smashed potato with swiss chard and olive oil), lamb demi glace, fresh herbs, fried potato, and crisp onion rounds. Learn how to make a simplified version of this restaurant dish below – pair with a Rizman Tribidrag! Živjeli!

Lamb assiette

Ingredients

  • 8 lamb chops, salted and peppered

  • 2 oz. vegetable oil

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • half of a small shallot, minced

  • ½ cup good red wine

  • 2 cups chicken stock

  • 1 sprig rosemary

  • 1 sprig thyme

  • 1 half stick of unsalted butter

Directions

  1. Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil and then sear the lamb chops seasoned with salt and black pepper. Brown on each side to medium rare (an internal temperature of 120°F).

  2. Remove the chops and add the garlic, shallot and herbs. Stir quickly to keep from burning just long enough to soften the garlic and shallot and bring out the oils in the herbs. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and reduce to almost dry, add the chicken stock and butter. Reduce down, swirling the pan till a beautiful glossy sauce forms. Do not over reduce because the sauce will break and become greasy (if it does brreak, you can add a bit more stock and reduce again). Season with salt and pepper.

Blitva na lešo (smashed potato & swiss chard)

Ingredients

  • 4 medium to large golden potato

  • 1 bunch swiss chard, washed and chiffonade

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 shallot, small dice

  • 6 ounce olive oil, preferably Croatian

  • 4 oz. milk

  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large pot boil the potatoes with salt until they are fall apart tender. Strain the water and set aside.

  2. Heat a large saute pan preferably with high sides over medium high heat. Add half of the olive oil and then the garlic and shallots. Season with salt and pepper cooking till translucent.

  3. Add the swiss chard, season again with salt to pull the moisture from the greens. Turn down the heat and cook till fully softened and the olive oil and natural juices blend together.

  4. Add the potato, milk, and remainder of the olive oil. Smash together incorporating all the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

Croatian easter meals side by side IMG

If lamb isn't your forte, maybe this braised beef pasta will be. For this recipe, beef cheek is slowly brainsed in cherry juice, chicken stock, wine, aromatic vegetables, herbs and spices. At the restaurant, finished beef cheek is shredded and folded into fresh spinach raviolis then finished in a sauce made with reduced braising liquid, sauteed garlic and shallots, and butter. When making the dish at home, you'll use thick-cut pappardelle.

Both dishes (restaurant dish and at home) are garnished with paški sir cheese from the Croatian island of Pag. Pair with Plavac Mali! Živjeli!

Braised beef pasta

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. beef short rib or shank

  • 16 oz. black cherry juice

  • 24 oz. chicken stock

  • 6 oz. dry white wine – ideally Croatian Pošip

  • 1 medium size onion, diced

  • 1 small carrot, diced

  • 2 ribs of celery, diced

  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced

  • spices: sachet of thyme, parsley, bay leaf, 5 black peppercorns, 1 tsp fennel seed, 1 tsp coriander seed

Directions

  1. In a dutch oven or braising pan of your choice sear the beef till browned on all sides. Deglaze the pan with white wine removing all and any fond on the bottom of the pan.

  2. Add vegetables, juice, stock, and sachet. Bring up to a simmer.

  3. Cover your pot and transfer to a 300°F oven. Cook for 1 hour 45 minutes. Beef should be cooked until fall apart tender. If the beef is not done, continue to cook in 15 minute increments till done.

  4. Remove the beef and strain the liquid to reserve for the pasta sauce.

Pan sauce and pasta

Ingredients

  • 3 oz. olive oil

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 shallot, minced

  • 1 small sprig fresh rosemary, chopped

  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, chopped

  • 16 oz. of reserved braising liquid

  • ½ of the shredded braised beef (reserve the remainder for another recipe or round two of the same)

  • 3 oz. unsalted butter

  • 1 Tbsp mascarpone cheese or creme fraiche

  • 1 lb. pappardelle pasta

  • 4 oz. pasta water

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • grated paški sir cheese (or hard sheep’s cheese)

  • sprig of fresh basil

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water up to a boil to cook the pasta. Cook the pasta till al dente.

  2. At the same time heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and then garlic and shallot. Season with salt and pepper and cook until translucent and aromatic. Put in the chopped herbs, stirring quickly. Add the braising liquid and beef, heat to a simmer.

  3. Place in the butter and mascarpone or creme fraiche, reducing the liquid to emulsify.

  4. Add the al dente pasta and pasta water. Simmer together working the pasta around in the pan until the starches from the pasta thicken the sauce into a beautiful creamy creation. Season again with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with freshly grated cheese and basil.

Dessert wines for Easter

Now onto the last and, arguably, the best courses… dessert. Make sure you have a sweet wine or two to choose from. Here are some recommendations:

  • Chocolate: Vino Santo for milk chocolate bunnies, Chianti for richer chocolate desserts

  • Vanilla cake: Gewürztraminer or American Riesling

  • Lemon or citrus treats: Pinot Grigio

  • Carrot cake: German Riesling, Malbec, or California Chardonnay

Share your Easter spreads with us, @coravin.