FOOD March 7th, 2016

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What’s your Easter roast?

The selection is wide, but three meats dominate

Alexei Malakhov/Town Crier TAKE YOUR PICK: Stanley Janecek of White House Meats on Bayview Avenue says the big three of lamb, ham and turkey are his most popular meats for Easter.

Think Thanksgiving and turkey automatically comes to mind. Think Christmas and it’ll be turkey again, with ham as an alternative. But Easter, the year’s third largest holiday? The choices of main courses are much wider.

If there is one traditional entrée for Easter dinner, however, it may be lamb.

The source of this convention is supposedly the Christian reference to Jesus as the “Lamb of God” — although why this would want to make you want to eat lamb is a question you may not want to get into. And why at Easter, as opposed to other Christian-related holidays like Christmas?

But theology aside, lamb has become known as the meat associated with the holiday heralding spring. Despite the fact that many Canadians prefer to stick to their festive favourite, turkey, for Easter. And despite many North Americans associating ham with the event.

Asking the question online, “What’s your Easter roast?” yields an even more diverse menu. Some of the responses show at least some people are serving up the following meat alternative dishes this year:

  • roast chicken (a surprisingly large number of respondents seem to prefer it to turkey)
  • poached salmon
  • stuffed veal
  • Cornish hen
  • roast beef

But Stanley Janecek of White House Meats says the “three big ones” at his Bayview Avenue shop are still:

  • fresh Ontario lamb
  • bone-in ham — spiral cut or festival
  • Ontario free-range turkey

The latter he finds increasingly popular for Easter these days, as people are trying it outside the traditional times of Christmas and thanksgiving. They prefer turkey, in part because, after the big meal, the bird provides days of tasty left-overs.

Those who prefer lamb, however, are opting for bone-in leg of lamb, boneless/butterfly leg of lamb, lamb loin chops or rack of lamb. Not too many want shoulder of lamb for Easter, he says.

Ham is popular in both festival bone-in roasts and in spiral-cut, honey-glazed ham.

Janacek also notes that Easter and Passover, which are often close together on the calendar, are far apart this year.  This year the Jewish holiday begins on April 22, almost four weeks after Easter, and may involve fish, lamb or chicken leg, or different foods altogether .

And then there are the people online who say they who avoid roasts altogether at this time of year and serve quiche or lasagna for Easter.

Which sounds positively sacrilegious to us meat lovers.