Monday, April 8, 2013

Easter Ham at Rancho Winslow

Nancy "Gramaw" Barnes, in full Easter disco mode

Every Easter Sunday for the last decade or so I have had a permanent invite to the Easter Dinner held at Rancho Winslow. It’s usually a festive affair, with the Thanksgiving and Christmas crowd present: the grandmaws, Nancy and Avelin, Robert “Empty Leg” Abraham, CBoy and Princess Di (“The Martha Stewart of Manchaca”), assorted spawn and subspawn (you know who you are), and present this year, same as last year, Jules. Di had just suffered through a grueling St. Patty’s Boiled Dinner extravaganza a week or so before, so the decision was made to keep it “low key”. There was one caveat: Diane demanded that I help her make something she referred to as “bunny rolls”.

Early prototype of bunny roll....this one more closely resembles a planaria

Instead of working at the nursery I bopped over to the ranch to help Di get everything ready. She had already made a marinated salad of broccoli and cauliflower, mushrooms, red onions, black olives, and who knows what other treats. I got the ham out and criss-
crossed some cuts on the surface, and then threw together a glaze of apricot jam, brown mustard, thyme, paprika, roasted garlic, and rum. We fired up the oven and popped that bad boy in there for a few hours; as it cooks and browns the slashed rectangles open up, which makes a perfect perch for the glaze to hang out while sunning under the broiler. Di had whipped up some horseradish-sour cream sauce for the ham, and we also had some leftover glaze to go on it.

Baked, criss-crossed, and glazed Easter ham

Di had peeled and diced a couple of big butternut squash, so I par-boiled those and then did likewise with some fresh spinach. I sautéed a bunch of onions in butter, using the oniony butter to lube the baking pan, and then we mixed it all together in a casserole with some walnuts, a few breadcrumbs, some yard eggs, parsley and thyme, and some parmesan, topped it with cheese and baked it off. We had a boatload of green beans that I was going to sauté, but decided that we didn’t need it. Enough was enough.

Butternut squash, walnut, spinach
, and parmesan casserole

Di and I checked out a vague Youtube video on how to take a frozen crescent roll and transform it into a rabbit (er, bunny), then we did a test batch. Other than my bunny butts being WAY too big, and the ears a little long, and the bodies being too stretched out (Di said they looked “sleepy”), they came out just fine; definitely rabbitlike enough for a subspawn to recognize. Jules took over the actual dinner bunny formation process, and made some very bunnyrific bunnies out of crescent rolls. 

A few of them fell sideways, and looked like they were napping, or had been fed a Roofie; Jules said they were just a little tired. I couldn’t resist the urge to make a couple of them into jackalopes, and Di insisted that a few be Cyclops bunnies (you form the eyes, or in this case, the EYE, with a wet toothpick). After a cruise in the sauna, they emerged golden brown and delicious, ready to be slathered with golden sweet butter.

Bunny battalion, ready for baking

Nancy had gotten inspired, and made a batch of chocolate pecan toffee (think Heath bar, but waaay better), and a batch of crunchy peanut brittle. She also “threw together” a fantastic Jack Daniels spice cake with pecans, and a couple of dozen mustardy deviled eggs. On the counter for grazing was a cheese assortment (gouda, fontina, emmenthaler, and cheddar), with an assortment of crackers and garlicky what not. A fruit plate with cantaloupe, grapes, and strawberries, a bowl of salted mixed macadamias and almonds, and a batch of artichoke and spinach dip. I appointed myself the monitor to make sure that people didn’t “ruin their dinner” with the toffee, brittle, and snacks.

The snack slab


Deviled eggs...a must-have for Easter 


Chocolate toffee with pecans

I  repeatedly slathered the ham with glaze so that Robert, a retired veterinarian, could perform the vivisection on the pig leg when it was properly golden. He spent considerable effort trying to sharpen what Rancho Winslow passes for carving tools; something has to be done about the dull cutlery up in that joint. Los cuchillos de Rancho Winslow estan muy pathetico.

Bunny rolls, cuddling in repose

Lines formed and chairs were grabbed and some serious eating commenced, and yes, folks still had room for dessert. There were lots and lots of great food groans and pleas for belly rubs. Easter ham and bunny rolls, what could be finer?

Mick Vann ©  

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