Easter Dinner At the Sharrard House

On another note, I was wondering if you have a menu planned for Easter (I am assuming you celebrate it since you posted about the King Cake a little bit ago, if you don’t just disregard this). I would love to see it, as I feel I am missing something in mine. It is the first holiday my husband and I have had a chance to host so I really don’t want to ruin it.

Easter is one of my favorite dinners of the year. Every year since I can remember, I’ve had absolutely wonderful North Carolina ham (with some side dishes, of course). For the past several years, my parents have been generous enough to order a ham for me when they get one for themselves, a gesture I always appreciate, becuase if they ever stopped ordering it, I’d be forced to spend my own money to get one as I can’t imagine Easter dinner without one.

North Carolina ham is salt cured, with no water injected. It’s quite a bit drier and saltier than supermarket hams, but it’s also quite a bit higher quality. My Uncle Luther used to raise hogs in Meadow, NC. We were always lucky when he sent us one of his hams. I don’t think he ever heard the phrase “free range,” and if he did, I doubt he’d have used it; but that’s how he raised his hogs because that’s what made sense. A pig tastes better when it gets exercise, so he gave them a limited run of the land, allowing them to swim in his irrigation ponds and run through the woods. I was always a bit scared of them when we went fishing in the ponds with our bamboo poles, but now I think it’s a wonderful way to treat your livestock. Another great technique he used was to let the hogs root through the sweet potato fields after they had been harvested and eat the tubers that hadn’t been pulled.

Of course, he’s been dead for several years now, so we don’t get one of his hams. Chances are, the ham we’ll be eating was raised in a factory setting, which is unfortunate, but it was cured in a way that yields delectable results: it’s sort of like cooking a whole proscuitto. I’ll be sure to take some pictures of the process.

Along with the ham, we’ll be eating mashed potatoes.  I’m considering doing both irish and sweet potatoes and then piping them onto the plate in a twisty-cone manner, but that’s just because I’m insane and it’ll only happen if I get three pastry bags between now and then. If it happens, I’ll take some pictures of that process, too, so you can learn how and impress your friends. Also we’ll eat roasted broccoli, because that’s about my favorite vegetable accompaniment to ham. And some deviled eggs (another dish that will require a pastry bag to accomplish most efficiently).

Beyond that, any additional dishes will be spur-of-the moment sorts of things based on what ingredients I have on hand.

As far as tips for hosting your first Easter dinner:
* Make dishes you’re comfortable making. You’ll have a much better time if you’re not stressed out about whether the meal is going to turn out as well as you hoped.
* Try to choose an entree that you can prepare ahead of time. That way, you’ll have more time to spend with your guests. I cook the ham a day or two before and serve it cold; same with the deviled eggs. The broccoli roasts in 10-12 minutes, and the mashed potatoes require a minimal amount of attention.
* Even if you’re not happy about how the meal turned out, don’t point out its flaws. This is a tip that I often have a hard time with myself. I’m very apt to introduce a meal by saying where I think it could have been better. This is in part an honest critique of my own work and in part a genuine expression of mild disappointment, but I’m always much more intimately involved with the meal than my guests are, and if I can keep my big trap shut, they’re very likely not to notice that the flaws I perceive are there at all.

Best of luck hosting, and I hope everything turns out perfectly.

6 Responses to “Easter Dinner At the Sharrard House”

  1. courtney Says:


    It all sounds so good. I agree that I am my own worst critic, and have a hard time shutting up.

    Luckily we planned on doing brunch. Due to church schedules I figure this will work best. I also feel brunch lends itself to more prep work than a dinner. Logically I have all my bases covered a frittata (mushroom/onion or spinach) for protein, waffles for startch with strawberries on top, a green salad or fruit salad, and possibly some sandwhich stuff for the meat eaters, (boar’s head ham and roast beef with cheese) and maybe a veggie (roasted asparagus)?

    I figure we can do it buffet style too which takes some pressure off.

    Dessert is still in the air as that sounds like a lot of food so already. I’m torn between icecream and biscotti and another light cookie, or a cheesecake, I’ll probably decide the Saturday before depending on how busy I am.

    I think writing it down for someone besides myself to look at helps.

  2. Johanna Says:

    I think Angel Food Cake is an Easter dinner dessert must!

  3. Jim Says:

    Made with whole wheat flour?

  4. jwsharrard Says:

    Jo— Come on over for dinner if you’re bringing the Angel Food Cake with you.

  5. Mom Says:

    I’ve been making deviled eggs for over 40 years and have never used a pastry bag. The ones made with a pastry bag look really nice, but they taste just as good if you use a little metal spatula and spread the filling in the egg white and then smooth it off.

    You forgot to mention that Uncle Luther’s hogs used to eat up all the pecans while they were roaming free. Your grandmother would get very upset when she saw the pigs eating the pecans that she hadn’t had a chance to get out and gather. I’m sure they added some good flavor to the meat also.

    Are you going to do a Charlotte Russe for dessert? That was always a favorite of your grandfather.

  6. Lori Says:

    Easter is a wonderful time and the meal is special. Traditionally my family always has ham and easter eggs and the regular fare. I do carry on that tradition. What I miss - are my grandparents influence. There were always special Easter dishes that we were delighted to eat and they were delighted to serve. Dessert was special and all those recipes have been lost.

    My grandmother had an apricot bar cookie that was to die for. If I find them I’ll let you know.

    Happy Easter everyone.

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