Side Orders: Easter menus filled with the goodness of spring

Anne Braly

If you're planning on eating out on Easter Sunday, here are some restaurants that will be serving special menus. It's not too late to call and make reservations, but do so now, because tables will fill up quickly.

» The Acropolis Grill, 2213 Hamilton Place Blvd., will serve lamb meatballs as an appetizer ($7), followed by a choice of five entrees: leg of lamb ($15); bacon-wrapped shrimp and scallops ($20); stuffed lemon sole ($21); stuffed heritage pork chop ($17); and pecan-crusted North Carolina trout. All entrees come with soup or salad, along with sides. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Reservations: 423-899-5341.

photo Anne Braly

» The Chattanoogan, 1201 Broad St., will be the site of a fun Easter brunch, complete with a petting zoo for the kids and tableside visits from the Easter Bunny. The buffet will include a variety of breakfast and lunch items - freshly baked pastries, steak and eggs, made-to-order omelets, carving stations with ham and lamb, chicken piccata and roasted salmon. Finish the meal with housemade cheesecakes, tarts, cakes, pies and a sundae station with ice cream from Clumpies along with all the toppings. Hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Cost is $45 for adults, $22 ages 5-12 and free for kids under 5. Reservations may be made by calling 423-424-3700.

» Cafe on the Corner, 826 Scenic Highway, Lookout Mountain, Tenn., will be serving a special menu with petite lamb chops (market price); individual skillet quiche ($13.95); petite filet eggs Benedict with roasted red pepper Hollandaise ($16.95); and a delicious Monte Cristo sandwich ($13.95). All entrees come with seasonal sides fresh from the farm. Hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Call 423-825-5005 for reservations.

» Back Inn Cafe, 411 E. Second St. Easter brunch will be a spectacular event in the Bluff View Art District, overlooking the Tennessee River. Start with one of the small plates, such as fried green tomatoes with pimento goat cheese ($10) before moving on to a choice of lunch selections, including pan-seared scallops with asparagus and tomatoes drizzled with lobster vanilla cream sauce ($24); or Rembrandt Roasting Co.'s rib-eye served with garlic mashed potatoes, green beans and wild mushroom red-eye gravy ($30). Those are just a few of the choices you'll have for a delicious, beautiful springtime brunch. Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Reservations 423-265-5033, ext. 1.

If you're up for a drive, two Tennessee state parks will be offering Easter buffets.

» Cumberland Mountain State Park, 24 Office Drive in Crossville, will fill the buffet at Homestead Harvest Restaurant with a salad bar that includes deviled eggs and cold baked ham and a hot bar serving turkey and dressing and roast beef and gravy, plus an array of sides. Finish your meal with the restaurant's signature banana pudding or any of several other desserts. Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. CDT. Cost: $16.95, plus drink and tax; free for children under 5 with a paying adult, 10 percent discount for seniors 62 and older. Reservations are being accepted for parties of six or more at 931-484-7186.

» Fall Creek Falls State Park's Gaul's Gallery Restaurant, 2536 Lakeside Drive in Spencer, will be open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. CDT. The price of the buffet had not been announced at press time. Call 1-800-250-8610, ext. 253, for more information.


I've made more hams than I can count, some baked, some smoked, but never have I really enjoyed them. They seem more like a means to an end - filling up space on the buffet, nice with eggs the next morning and good for leftover ham sandwiches for days to come.

Recently, though, I came upon a recipe from America's Test Kitchens that really piqued my interest for serving this Easter Sunday. Instructions called for gently warming the ham in a hot water bath, which made sense in order to keep the meat from drying out. If your ham comes with one of those prepackaged glazes to use with the ham drippings, toss it. Don't even give it to the dog - the artificial flavorings are blasphemous for an Easter dinner. The recipe from America's Test Kitchens comes with instructions on making an incredibly flavorful Cherry-Port Wine glaze using cherry preserves. It's very easy, and the color is bright and beautiful for your Easter buffet. You'll want to make sure you don't overglaze the ham only because you'll want enough left over so guests can ladle it on at the table. The sauce is a lovely addition.

Word to the wise: Avoid buying a ham that has water added to it. There are three main types of hams sold in area supermarkets:

» Ham with their natural juices, which can contain up to 10 percent water.

» Ham with water added, which can contain up to 15 percent water.

» "Prefab" canned hams, which can contain any amount of water up to 50 percent.

Naturally, the latter ham is the one you'll want to avoid above all, but if you wait till the last minute to buy your Easter ham, that may be all that's left, so it's best to go ahead and get your ham now.

Easter Ham With Cherry-Port Glaze

1 spiral-sliced, bone-in ham (7 to 10 pounds)

1 large oven bag (plastic)

3/4 cup port wine

3/4 cup cherry preserves

1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

It is important that you do not unwrap your ham. Leave it fulled wrapped in plastic, but remove any outer wrapping (such as plastic mesh). Discard any glaze that comes with your ham.

Put wrapped ham in a large container, and fill with hot tap water. Allow to sit for 45 minutes. Drain the water, fill with more hot tap water, and allow to sit for another 45 minutes. This will allow the ham to gently come up to temperature and significantly reduce the amount of time that the ham spends in the oven.

Set an oven rack to the bottom of your oven and heat to 250 degrees. Unwrap the ham, and remove the plastic disk covering the bone from the bottom of the ham. Put the ham in an oven bag, and tie the bag snugly over your ham. Put ham in a roasting pan, cut side down. Use a paring knife to make 4 1-inch slits in the top of the bag.

Bake for about 10 minutes per pound. The center of the ham should reach 100 degrees; measure only in spiral slices, not the unsliced top portion. Remember the ham was fully cooked at the factory; you are only reheating it.

For glaze: With 20 minutes cooking time remaining, put small saucepan over medium burner, and reduce 3/4 cup port to 3 tablespoons; about 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, and continue cooking over medium heat for 10 more minutes, until it reduces to 1 1/2 cups.

Remove ham from oven, and increase oven temperature to 350 degrees. Cut the oven bag open, and roll down the sides so that the ham is exposed. Brush the ham with 1/3 cup of the glaze, and bake for 10 more minutes.

Remove ham from oven bag, reserving the juices to loosen the glaze. Again, brush the ham evenly with another 1/3 cup of the glaze. Loosely tent with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the ham juices to the remaining glaze. Place over medium burner until it becomes a thick sauce. Serve sauce at the table, or place on the buffet next to the ham.

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