Spring for many who crave slow roasted savory dishes can mean that it’s time for lamb — especially when there’s a special occasion to consider such as Easter. For my family, however, this wasn’t the case. Our tradition was far from a special dinner at home and a table set with my great grandmother’s china. No, we were the more adventuresome type.
If my mother was successful in her relentless attempts to get my father out of bed, we’d try and make it to early service. My mother was an amazing seamstress, so picture three perfectly dressed children (the girls in matching dresses, of course) with brand new shoes, Easter hats, and not a hair out of place, all waiting for the man of the house to get up so their day could begin. There was more than one reason to make that early service. Father K. did the mass first on Sunday, and he was quite efficient, so rarely did the service last even an hour. If we didn’t make the first service, then we would attend Father B’s mass which inevitably took much, much longer. That service was always packed, too, so often we ended up sitting in the back or upstairs, and with no padded rails to kneel on.
First thing in the morning, we’d see the Easter baskets placed at the end of our beds full of candy and goodies, the best of which was usually a large chocolate foil wrapped bunny. Each basket had exactly the same contents, because my little sister kept track and usually let my mother know it was a problem. These baskets of goodies came in handy for what was usually a long drive after church, searching for the perfect spot to have our annual Easter picnic. Every year the group was a bit different, but every year, we were on the road, picnic food wrapped and ready to eat sometime after the giant egg hunt. We hunted real eggs — eggs that we’d colored ourselves, and then after finding them would end up as deviled eggs.
But lamb was nowhere to be found on the menu for that occasion. So it wasn’t until well into adulthood that I finally tasted lamb. Although I still don’t serve lamb as much as I do other meats, I am learning more about which cut to prepare, how to prepare it and with which flavors.
When I saw the meaty lamb shanks at our local Henry’s, I wasn’t looking for them, but had to have them knowing I’d put them to good use. It didn’t take long to find the perfect recipe. Absolutely perfect.