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Salmon - A popular seafood choice for Americans- Tuesday, April 25, 2017

After shrimp and canned tuna, salmon comes in as the third most consumed seafood in the US. The average American consumes 2 pounds/year. When you consider the large number who either don’t like or eat much seafood, or those with limited access to seafood, it means that some folks are eating quite a lot of salmon. While it truly is popular, there is a lot that most folks just don’t know about salmon.

The thing about salmon that makes them very recognizable versus other species of fish is their distinct pink color. We’ve even coined a name for the color, which you will find in clothing store catalogs and paint samples. “Salmon” (or “salmon pink”) is meant to describe a delicate, reddish-pink hue that has become extremely popular in recent years. However, the famous salmon color is not something that is dictated by the fish’s DNA. Instead, salmon get their color thanks to their diet. Specifically, the color comes from an anti-oxidant carotenoid called astaxanthin. This chemical is produced in the chloroplasts of yeasts and algae. Salmon don’t feed on algae and yeast, but the smaller fish on which salmon feed -- and which make up the majority of their diet -- do. Once again, it goes to prove that we are what we eat.

The most compelling thing we should know about salmon is that, generally speaking, it is good for our health. Salmon is one of the most nutritious types of fish to add to your diet. It supplies iron, zinc, niacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, in addition to a whole host of other nutrients.

Salmon is also a source of unsaturated fats -- healthy types of fat that help protect your health -- called polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Both kinds of healthy fats help normalize your heartbeat and ease inflammation, which is a response from your immune system that can increase your risk of cancer and other chronic illnesses. A 3-ounce serving of wild Atlantic salmon supplies 4.9 grams of unsaturated fats, and the same portion of coho salmon contains 4.4 grams. Three ounces of sockeye salmon have 2.5 grams of unsaturated fats, and a 3-ounce serving of farmed Atlantic salmon provides 7.4 grams.

Salmon contains a specific type of unsaturated fat called omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids lower your risk of dying from heart disease, according to Mayo Clinic. The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon help keep your heart healthy by protecting the health of your blood vessels. They help lower triglycerides, reduce your blood pressure and prevent blood clots, effects that go a long way toward protecting your heart. Choosing salmon over red meat can help lower your cholesterol -- the waxy substance that can build up in your arteries and increase your risk of heart attack -- because salmon is much lower in saturated fat than beef, pork, and some cuts of poultry.

In addition, salmon is a very good source of protein. While the specific protein content varies depending on what type of salmon you're eating, a 3-ounce serving contains an average of about 20 to 21 grams. Eating a serving of any kind of salmon is a nutritious way to make sure you're getting plenty of protein.

A few cooking tips regarding salmon

  • Dealing with the bones - You should remove the pin bones—but carefully. Pulling them up and out of the salmon will rip up its flesh, which is not a good look. Take tweezers and carefully pull out the pin bones in the same direction the bones are oriented in the salmon’s flesh.

  • Skin, keep it or remove it? Skin is tasty and will enhance the flavor of your fish. So when you’re cooking salmon, keep that skin on. The meat itself is quite delicate and the skin provides a safety layer between your fish’s flesh and a hot pan or grill. Start with the skin-side down, and let it crisp up. Then it's easy to slide your spatula under the salmon’s skin to turn it and the flesh won’t stick to the pan. There is an exception to the keep on the skin rule, however: When poaching salmon, you will want to remove the skin first with a sharp filleting knife.

  • When poaching, add flavor to your water – There is no reason to poach your salmon in plain tap water. Add zest and flavor by spiking the water with lemon or a half head of garlic. Another good idea is to poach the salmon in dry white wine. Not only will these ideas add flavor to your fish, they go a long way in preventing your kitchen from smelling like a fish house.

  • Don’t overcook it – We’ve all heard the phrase, “Cook it till it flakes”.Turns out that this in one of the most common mistakes made when cooking salmon. If using a grill or a pan, sear salmon skin-side down on high heat until the skin is crispy, then, whether you flip your fish or not, finish cooking it on low heat. The fish’s sections should give and pull apart easily, not flake into dry pieces.

  • Enjoy the leftovers – How often do you hear people say, “I’m not saving the leftovers because reheated fish is never any good”? Perhaps that is true, but who says that you need to reheat the leftover salmon? Cold, day-old salmon is delicious; flake it into a salad, turn it into a sandwich, or just eat it straight from the fridge.

Hope we’ve piqued your taste buds and have you thinking of delicious, fresh salmon. Here is a collection of Salmon recipes that you might like to review.


Let’s Clear Up Some Confusion About Pork Anatomy.- Tuesday, April 25, 2017

For some unknown reason the meat industry had always been somewhat cloaked in mystery when it comes to identifying various cuts of meat. Some of it has to do with regional traditions that have become a bit hazy as we Americans have become a more mobile society. Also, part of the confusion has come about as marketers have attempted to come up with more creative cuts of meat and dubbed these meat cuts with new names which are thought to be more appealing to the consumer.

Today I thought I’d focus with on the part of a pig’s carcass that provides some delicious meat at very economical prices, but is often less than well understood...

When we speak of pork chops, baby back ribs, bacon, hams, and rolled pork roasts, there is little to be confused about. Although all come from the same animal, each is very different from the other in taste, appearance, the way that they are most often prepared, and the type of meals at which they are often served. We tend to think of bacon as breakfast food, while a ham is for a big family meal at Christmas or Easter, while chops and ribs are common fare for summer barbeque parties and rolled pork roasts are most often reserved for Sunday meals or when company is invited.

Today, let’s turn to a very different portion of our friend Mr. Pig and talk about the pork shoulder or pork butt. To begin, let’s get the anatomy correct. We humans stand and walk upright on two legs. Pigs, however, as with other livestock, walk around on four legs and have no arms. So, if a pig has no arms, where are its shoulders? Likewise, are we correct to presume that a pork butt would be found at the rear end of a pig just above its hind legs? Here is where it gets a bit tricky. Didn’t I start by saying that there is a lot of confusion with respect to meat cuts? This is an excellent example of just that concept.

The Difference Between a Shoulder and a Butt

Both come from the front of the animal and if you were to look at a hog standing these would be located in the upper front quarter behind the head, perhaps what we might think of as the neck area. In general, the primal cuts from the top of the pig (like the loin) are leaner and more tender than those from the bottom. But cooking the tougher cuts (like the shoulder and the hocks) low and slow can make them tender and juicy.

Yet there is, traditionally, a difference between pork shoulder and pork butt. Cuts labeled "pork shoulder" (including a "picnic shoulder") are from the thinner, triangle-shaped end of the shoulder whereas the "butt" is from the thicker, more intensely marbled end of the shoulder. As such, pork shoulder is a bit better for cooking whole and slicing, whereas pork butt is perfect for making pulled pork and other recipes in which the meat is meant to fall apart (the streaks of fat that run through it, creating the marbling, make it fall apart more easily once it's cooked to tenderness). Both, however, are great cut up and used as stew meat and in chillis. And you can, if necessary, use them interchangeably in most recipes.

How to Cook Pork Shoulder

What they do have in common (besides their place of origin on the pig) is that both pork shoulder and pork butt benefit from long, slow cooking that tenderizes them and melts the fat that runs through them. The shoulder is an area of the hog that sees a lot of activity. Those muscles work hard carrying all that weight around. They get built up and tend to have more flavor than more tender cuts, but they must be cooked accordingly.

I like pork shoulder for two main reasons;

  1. It is a very economical piece of meat

  2. When cooked properly it will become well tenderized, and because of the nature of the fat woven into the muscle this is a much tastier cut than some other more popular cuts like chops or pork loin roasts.

Now that you know a bit more about this lesser known cut of pork, let me suggest some recipes that are all worthy of a try.

Spicy Pork Chili

Mustard-Bourbon Kabobs


Green Chile Pork Stew

Schweinebraten - German Style Roast Pork

Roast Pork Shoulder Caribbean-Style

Pulled Pork


Margaret Prisco – retired Meat Manager and present consultant

Easy Steps to Start a Compost Pile- Tuesday, April 18, 2017

3 Essential Elements for Perfect Compost

STEP: 1. Start with a container

We’re dealing with decomposing organic material, so the structure doesn’t need to be fancy. You just need some sort of way to hold all of the ingredients together so the beneficial bacteria that break down the plant matter can heat up and work effectively. Compost bins are of two types, stationary and rotating. Both types must have their contents turned periodically to provide oxygen and combine the decaying materials. The more often rotation takes place the faster decomposition occurs.  There are lots of different compost bins available for sale or you can build your own -- just go to Google and let your keyboard to the walking. Most people will opt for the easiest, least expensive option so we will focus on the stationary bin.  Here is one we found in a quick web search for less than $100.

Economical 3-Bin Wire Composter

This 3-bin composter holds a total of 48 cubic feet and is made of heavy-gauge, powder-coated steel. You may need only one composter most of the year, but where can you put that mountain of leaves every fall? This three-bin wire composter holds 48 cubic feet of leaves, grass clippings and garden scraps, without the investment of an enclosed composter. The three bins can also be used to separate compost: one to collect yard and kitchen waste, one for cooking compost, and one for finished compost.

When using the stationary bin method, locate the pile in a sunny location so that it has as much heat as possible. If it’s in the shade all day, decomposition will still happen, but it will be much slower, especially when freezing temps arrive in the fall. Compost tumblers can also take heat advantage of being placed in direct sunlight.

STEP 2. Get the ingredient mix right

A low-maintenance pile has a combination of brown and green plant matter, plus some moisture to keep the good bacteria humming. Shredded newspaper, wood chips and dry leaves are ideal for the brown elements; kitchen waste and grass clippings are perfect for the green add-ins.

Skip meat, fish and dairy for outdoor bins because they tend to attract pests like mice, raccoons and dogs. If you’re using a simple container, it’s best to start heaping the ingredients right on the ground, starting with chunky material like small branches or woody stems on the bottom for good airflow. Every time you add green material, add some brown as well to keep a good moisture balance and create air pockets.

It’s a good idea to give your new pile a jump-start to get the process started. There are several great activators that are ready to go right out of the box. No need to mix it in well. Fold in a couple shovelfuls of garden soil rich in organic matter and let the natural process begin.

How do you know if your compost pile needs watering? Most expert composters suggest a moisture content of 40% to 60%. A quick, hands-on and visual check should tell you if the pile is too dry: it will lack heat and there’ll be little evidence of organic material break down. If you compost is too wet, it’s probably slimy and smells bad. A good rule-of-thumb is the sponge test: your compost should have the consistency and moisture content of a wrung-out sponge when you squeeze it.

If your compost is too dry, water it from the top down until you reach the desired “wrung sponge” consistency. A good turning at this point will aid in even distribution of moisture. If your compost it too wet, try adding newspaper paper, brown (unbleached) cardboard or chopped straw (make sure it’s seed free if you can). The idea is to open up your pile’s insides so that more air may circulate through. Adding air by turning your pile can also help (but is a lot more work). The best time to get your pile’s moisture content just right is when you build it. Once a pile is started properly it’s almost self-maintaining (minus that turning). There’s also the chance that if you live in a wet coastal climate your pile will be too wet because of frequent rains. Covering your pile with straw or even a tarp will help. And it will help contain heat.

STEP 3. Remember a few simple chores

Taking care of a compost pile is extremely basic, and a small amount of care makes a huge difference. Add material regularly to give the happy bacteria some fresh food to consume and enough insulation to keep the process warm.

Turn the pile with a pitchfork or compost aerator every week or two to make sure that all of the materials are blended in and working together. After you’ve mixed things up, grab a handful to see if it’s slightly damp. Too little moisture will slow the decomposition process and too much will leave you with a slimy mess.  In a few months, your finished product should be a dark, crumbly soil that smells like fresh earth.


Let’s all try to put religious and political differences aside this week and think universally about Mother Earth and her future.- Tuesday, April 18, 2017

On April 22nd, the world will celebrate Earth Day for 47th time.  Earth Day has evolved into a globally celebrated event, with festivities occurring in more than 200 countries. In its simplest form, it’s a day for people to step back, take a deep breath and appreciate Earth in all its splendor. But for many people, Earth Day holds the potential to ignite broad environmental action.

So often when we are faced with what seems an insurmountable task, we tend to try to use any excuse to avoid dealing with it because we simply feel overwhelmed by it. We can’t imagine how what we do, alone, will actually matter.  The fact is that this planet of ours is home to billions of individuals just like us, and every time one of us does something positive that is mimicked by one or two others things can and do snowball into meaningful change.

Rather than feeling like we need to solve the problems of the world, let’s start with each doing as little as one positive thing to help make our environment better.  We have thousands of customers who frequent our store.  If just 500 of them did one meaningful thing to celebrate Earth Day there indeed would be a noticeable impact on our local environment -- and that, in turn, will be added to what takes place in communities across the globe. We can stem the tide of abuse to our world, which is necessary for the survival of our civilization.

Here are a handful of easy to do activities which you can consider; perhaps make a family project out of working on a couple different initiatives, rather than trying to do everything at once.

Get a recyclable water bottle

I personally think that this one is so easy that anyone can do it.  The US alone consumes 50 billion plastic water bottles annually. Most of these bottles are not recycled and end up in landfills, in oceans and elsewhere, which harms organisms and the environment. Just creating these bottles uses 17 million barrels of gasoline, which would be enough to power 1.3 million cars for a year. Even more energy is then spent transporting water bottles and then recycling them.  Ending society’s addiction to unnecessary water bottles would be greatly appreciated by Earth.

Write your congressman and senator

We need to have a clear separation of politics and our environment.  Regardless of our political affiliations we are all citizens of this one and only Planet Earth and we need to collectively take steps to remove politics from the equation and make protecting our planet a priority for all of Earth’s citizens. Contacting someone with the power to make large-scale change through legislation, like a senator or representative, can result in some pretty grand and lasting changes.

To find the name and contact information of your member of Congress, just go to the web site for your state or local government. You'll find both e-mail and mailing addresses, and you could even call if you don't have the time to write a letter. Just pick a cause -- water safety, forest preservation, clean air, recycling, whatever speaks to you -- and tell your congressman or congresswoman how you feel.

U.S. Representative Bill Foster of the 11th District of Illinois
2711 E New York Street Suite 204
Aurora, IL 6050    phone: (630)-585-7672

US Representative Randy Hultgren of the 14th District of Illinois
40W310 Lafox Road, #F2
Campton Hills, IL 60175   phone: (630) 584-2734

Senator Dick Durbin – Senior Senator from Illinois
711 Hart Senate Building
Washington, D.C. 20510 phone (202) 224.2152

Senator Tammy Duckworth – Junior Senator from Illinois
524 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510 phone: (202) 224-2854


Start composting

Earth is the ultimate recycler -- it reuses everything that it creates with a little help from the Sun. And everything that lives on the planet is cool with this system of recycling -- everything except humans.

Humans are the only things that willfully don’t recycle what they create and use. And that means that a lot of nourishing substances that would otherwise feed wildlife and help it flourish end up in landfills or on strips of asphalt or somewhere else.  But it doesn’t have to be that way. Composting biodegradable food and materials is a great way to feed soil, organisms in the soil and plant life while reducing waste.

Keep the Car In The Garage

How about leaving the car at home and walking, cycling or using public transport even just for today? Perhaps it’s walking the kids to school instead of driving them, or you might opt to cycle to yoga. It may take you a little more time but you’ll get to enjoy the fresh air, teach the kids about nature on the way to school, or read a book on the train or bus. Who knows, you might enjoy it so much it becomes a regular thing!

Get Planting
Today’s the day to take the plunge and create a veggie patch. You’ll not only be eliminating the carbon emissions that are involved in getting produce to plate, you’ll also be able to enjoy fresh, organic produce whilst saving some money. If you find the idea of a veggie patch daunting or if you have limited outdoor space, you could start by planting some fresh herbs or a couple of lettuces in a bucket — or for a rustic look, an old wine barrel.

BYO Grocery Bags

If we all lived and had our store in Chicago this one would automatically jump to the top of the list more for economic reasons than anything else.  Since the beginning of the year, Chicago shoppers are being charged 7¢ for each plastic bag that they receive at the check-out. It’s easy to see how this could cost a family of four an extra $35 to $50 a year just to bring home their groceries.  How can one avoid this tax, or, as in our case, simply put less plastic in landfills? Bring your own bags to pack your groceries.  Making the effort to put reusable shopping bags in your car could start a new habit that would reduce the use of plastic bags. To top it off, wouldn’t it be nice to eliminate the unsightly blemish of those tattered bags flapping in the wind as they get caught on our highways, fences and tree lines?


So, there you have it: half a dozen very easy to accomplish ways to help support Earth Day this year.  Please pick one or two or all six, and let’s all do a little something to make our world a better place.


All about eggplants- Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A member of the nightshade family, which includes tomatoes and peppers, eggplant is a fairly common staple throughout the world, especially in Asian countries. As Americans, many of us are familiar with the most common/classic eggplant variety -- the deep purple, somewhat pear-shaped type carried by the majority of grocery stores. However, not many of us are acquainted with all the other varieties available... and there are many!

Eggplant varieties

Here is a list of the more common types of eggplant. Note: Most of these are available year-round!

White Eggplant

Eggplant got its name because it was originally small and white, and thus looked like eggs hanging from the plant. Today, the white eggplant has a tough skin and a creamy, delicate flesh.

Italian Eggplant

Smaller, slimmer versions of the classic American eggplant; useful for sauteing if you want small slices.

Chinese Eggplant

Long and violet to purple in color, the Chinese eggplant is sweeter and more tender than a typical American eggplant. Its skin is soft, so it is rarely peeled. It is interchangeable in almost any eggplant recipe.

Japanese Eggplant

Similar to the Chinese eggplant, it has a thin skin and a sweet, delicate flavor. The Japanese eggplant is slender and can be green, pink, white, lavender or purple. Its calyus, or stem, is most often dark purple.

Indian Eggplant

The Indian eggplant is known for its tenderness and sweet flavor. It is small and round with smooth skin and a red-purple color. The skin does not need to be peeled; it can be used interchangeably with the American eggplant.

Choosing and storing an eggplant

Eggplants should be firm but not hard, and heavy for their size. Their skin should be glossy, with no bruises or brown spots, and the cap should be fresh-looking and bright green.

Eggplant can be kept for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator; after that it can become bitter. Keep it uncut in an open plastic bag. (Eggplants that were purchased wrapped should have their plastic covering removed before storage).

Health benefits of eggplant

The iron, calcium and other minerals in eggplant supply the essential nutrients required by the body.

Eggplants contain certain essential phyto nutrients which improve blood circulation and nourish the brain. (Most of these nutrients are concentrated in the skin of the eggplant.)

Eggplant is low in calories, with just 35 per cup. It contains no fat and its high fiber content can help you feel full.

A few delicious eggplant recipes


[Info courtesy of &]

Marshmallow chicks, chocolate bunnies, and decorated eggs - where did those come from?- Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I’ve got to admit that I’ve always been just a bit curious as to how chocolate bunnies, marshmallow peeps and baskets of decorated eggs became such an integral part of one of the most solemn Christian holidays, Easter. I did a little research and it would appear this is one instance where we can’t lay blame on the greeting card industry for inventing a way to commercialize a holiday.

Let’s start with Easter itself. I thought it would be pretty cool to look up the origin of the term "Easter" and determine where the name itself came from, but the centuries of time that have passed since the resurrection of Christ and the beginning of Christianity have blurred the facts considerably. According to St. Bede (d. 735), the great historian of the Middle Ages, the title Easter seems to originate in English around the eighth century C.E. The word Easter is derived from the word <Eoster>, the name of the Teutonic goddess of the rising light of day and Spring, and the annual sacrifices associated with her. If this is the origin of our word Easter, then the Church "baptized" the name, using it to denote that first Easter Sunday morning when Christ, our Light, rose from the grave, and when the women found the tomb empty just as dawn was breaking.

Next, where did the Easter bunny come from? To answer this we must once again rely on ancient fables and passed down legend, but it is said that Eostre, the goddess of Spring, found a bird dying from the cold and turned it into a rabbit so its fur would keep it warm — but that rabbit still laid eggs like a bird. In one version [of the story], the bunny paints and decorates the eggs as a gift to Eostre to show his loyalty and love.

Dyeing Easter eggs may have a deeper religious connection as well. One tradition regarding Easter eggs is related to Mary Magdalene, the first person to see Jesus after the Resurrection. She was holding a plain egg in the presence of an emperor and proclaiming the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The emperor said that Jesus’ rising from the dead was as likely as that egg turning red — and the egg turned bright red while he was still speaking. A more plausible reason that eggs are connected to Easter, however, goes back to the period of Lent (forty days prior to Easter) where eggs were omitted from the regular diet as part of Christian fasting. Easter was then celebrated as a day when eggs could once again be eaten. Those eggs were often presented in baskets lined with colored straw to resemble a bird’s nest, thanks again perhaps to Eostre.

The tradition of chocolate eggs began in 19th-century France and Germany and soon spread to the rest of Europe and eventually the United States. Similar to the absence of eggs during the first century, chocolate and candy are things modern Christians abstain from. When Easter arrived the reintroduction of chocolate and candies was done — often in the festive form of chocolate bunnies

As for the Easter meal, lamb has been one of the more common main entrees. Lamb is traditional because Jesus' last supper was the Passover meal. On the other hand, we all know that Jesus was a Jew and would never have eaten pork so why is Easter Ham even more common as the meat of choice for Easter Dinner and Brunch? The commonly believed explanation is that salted pork would last through the winter and be ready to eat in spring before other fresh meat was available.

Well, there are no iron clad answers as to the origin of most of these Easter traditions, but sometimes not knowing all the answers for certain is just fine and adds more to the mystique of family celebrations.


Happy Easter everyone.


Olive oil – a better choice for taste, for cooking, and for health!- Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Info. courtesy of

“Olive oil” is how we refer to the oil obtained from the fruit of olive trees. People have been eating olive oil for thousands of years and it is now more popular than ever, thanks to its many proven health benefits and its culinary usefulness.

After olives are picked and washed, they’re crushed – sometimes between two big stones, but now more commonly by steel blades. The resulting paste is stirred to release the oil droplets in a process called maceration, before being spun in a centrifuge to pull out the oil and water. After the water is removed, what is left is olive oil.

Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat and the cornerstone of the famous Mediterranean diet. Most people choose olive oil because of its many proven benefits to human health. Extra virgin olive oils offer even more: a world of fruity-bitter tastes that chefs are capturing to elevates dishes to a level they never thought possible. Studies of the health benefits of olive oil consumption fill the pages of medical journals around the world. Heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's and cancers are among the long list ailments that can be avoided and conditions that can be improved by a diet that includes olive oil. If you want to live a long and healthy life , replace other fats like butter with at least two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil every day, eat lots of veggies and go for a walk.

Types of Olive Oils - Refined & Unrefined

Only about 30 percent of all olive oil production ends at extracting the oil from the olives. Refining involved using solvents and high heat to neutralize the tastes of the oil. This allows producers to use olives that are not in the best condition, and blend from oils from a wide variety of sources (even countries) because the bad tastes resulting from oxidized olives and the mass production process are chemically removed. When you see “Pure Olive Oil” at the store, or a bottle that says simply “Olive Oil,” these are refined.

Unrefined Olive Oils

Unrefined olive oils do not undergo chemical refining. In unrefined olive oils, such as “extra virgin” and “virgin” olive oils, the process goes no further than extraction and bottling. Producers of unrefined olive oils need to use fruit that is in good condition and carefully manage various factors, because the oil will not be treated to chemically hide bad tastes that would result from oxidized olives or some other contamination.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

An unrefined olive oil that exhibits nice fruity flavors, has no taste “defects” and meets certain benchmarks in its chemical composition can be called “extra virgin.” In extra virgin olive oils, the tastes of the fruit is intact, and its quality reflects the great care along the entire production process. Extra virgin olive oils have higher amounts of nutrients and therefore provide greater health benefits. It is the only cooking oil that is made without the use of chemicals and industrial refining. Extra virgin is the highest quality and most expensive olive oil classification. It should have no defects and a flavor of fresh olives. It must be produced entirely by mechanical means without the use of any solvents, and under temperatures that will not degrade the oil.

It's not easy to produce extra virgin olive oil. A producer must use fresh olives in good condition and monitor every step of the process with great care. Extra virgin olive oil doesn't stay that way: Even in perfect storage conditions, the oil will degrade over time, so it's important to enjoy it within its two-year shelf life.


Consider Leg of Lamb this Easter… it’s not as difficult as you might think to prepare.- Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Without question, the two most popular dishes to prepare for Easter dinner are a nice ham or a leg of lamb. Some families with a large guest list will actually prepare both. And don’t forget: if you have vegetarians or vegans included on the guest list, be sure to have plenty of meat- and dairy-free side dishes available.

As you know, I’m not Greek, so lamb is not something we have often, but it’s also not a dish that you need to shy away from because it’s really not difficult to prepare. Here’s a recipe I use for marinated leg of lamb that you can bake; alternatively, if you enjoy cooking outdoors as much as I do, it’s also delicious grilled.

Because it’s marinated you will need to do some work the day before, but that works to your advantage on Easter as it allows you to concentrate more on the accompanying side dishes.

You're starting with a boneless leg of lamb -- most of the remaining ingredients are things you are quite familiar with.

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil

  • Juice of 3 lemons

  • 1/2 cup dry red wine

  • 1 large onion, peeled, quartered

  • 6 to 8 large cloves garlic, peeled

  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard

  • 1 tablespoon each: dried oregano, dried basil, dried rosemary

  • 2 teaspoons each: ground cumin, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 butterflied boneless leg of lamb (about 7 pounds) or 2 butterflied legs (3 to 4 pounds each)


Combine everything but the lamb in a blender or food processor. Whiz until thick and creamy, about a minute. If tied, untie the leg of lamb. Lay it out fat side down on a rimmed baking sheet; using a sharp knife, slash the thickest parts of the lamb. Pour about half the marinade over the meat, and rub it in well with your hands. Turn the lamb over and pour the remaining marinade over the fat side, again rubbing it in well.

Fold the lamb in thirds and put it into a zip-close bag or shallow pan. Pour remaining marinade from the baking sheet over the lamb. Refrigerate 8 to 24 hours, turning the bag or flipping the lamb every 2 hours or so.

At grilling time, make a hot fire. Unfold the lamb and pat away the excess marinade. Discard remaining marinade. Put the lamb on the grill cut side up and cook for 9 minutes. Turn the lamb over and cook an additional 9 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a platter and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving. That’s it very easy to do and o so delicious. Fof some of you not comfortable using the grill you can also roast the lamb at 425 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or to an internal temperature of 135 degrees in the thickest part. You'll have rare, medium-rare and well-done lamb. The classic wine to pair with your grilled leg-of-lamb is a Pinot Noir.


I’ll close this week by offering up two more suggestions to help make Easter entertaining a bit easier. This week we are featuring our heat-and-eat lasagna (Grandma Prisco’s recipe) in three variations: meat, cheese and spinach for $6.99 lb. Or check out our new Easter morning brunch package -- once again, just heat-and-eat it -- containing a Prisco’s homemade 9” bacon and spinach quiche, plus one lb. each of hand cut, thick-sliced bacon, Prisco’s homemade breakfast sausage, and Prisco’s homemade potatoes O’Brian.


Happy Easter!