We celebrated Easter this year with a glorious brisket dinner. What better way is there to celebrate? Check out everything we had on our Easter menu and learn how to make the dinner of your dreams!
Our Easter Brisket Dinner Menu
AKA Sunday Brisket Dinner, since Easter was over a week ago… *blush*
Because my parents were in town this weekend (and I had a couple new recipes I’ve been wanting to try!), and since we weren’t able to be with them last weekend on Easter, we decided to celebrate a week later with an Easter Sunday Dinner while they were here visiting.
The calendar of Christian religious holidays is nothing if not flexible. Right?
I had several traditional recipes for the Easter season that I’ve been wanting to try. After much deliberation (was it wrong to serve green peas with black eyed peas?) here’s how the menu turned out:
Fajita BBQ Beef Brisket
Hot Cross Buns
Fried Black Eyed Peas
Smashed Potatoes with Peas & Caramelized Pearl Onions
Homemade Caramel & Brown Sugar Bacon Ice Cream
(Yes, I just said bacon. More on that later.)
Fried Black Eyed Peas
When I saw the “Totally Unexpected” episode on the Food Network, and Alton Brown declared Fried Black Eyed Peas as “The Best Thing I ever Ate” I knew right then and there I had to throw on my good southern girl apron, get in the kitchen, and give these a try. It was the right thing to do. Just like Alton said, these were crunchy on the outside and POOF! Like little fluffy clouds when you bit into them. They were delicious with the mashed potatoes. If you give ’em a try, definitely serve with mashed potatoes. Heck, go ahead and serve them right on top of the mashed potatoes. The salty crunch of the peas with the buttery fluffiness of the potatoes was a perfect pairing. When we are in Atlanta for the Boston Terrier Nationals next month, we will be 15 minutes from Relish, the restaurant where AB had these fried black eyed peas, and we are definitely, definitely going – the first restaurant from the Food Network that I’ve ever been close enough to go to!
Smashed Potatoes with Peas & Caramelized Pearl Onions
Remember the little green peas with pearl onions that came in a can? I used to love those. I used to eat all the pearl onions first and beg for more. Heck, I still love ’em. This grown up version with buttery, caramelized pearl onions and smashed potatoes is a tasty little side that can really dress up a plate. BTW, this was the only recipe for Easter dinner that I’d ever made before.
Fajita BBQ Beef Brisket
It alllll started with the brisket. I’d never made brisket before, but I’ve always wanted to- I was hooked ever since I saw the Pioneer Woman write about Braised Beef Brisket on The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Ironically though, I didn’t end up using her recipe. I haven’t had that many briskets, but I’ve heard that it can be a tough cut of meat to turn out tender & juicy. And brisket is supposed to be best after you let it sit in the fridge for a day or two to let the flavors, you know, mix and mingle and party and stuff. But I never understood the best way to reheat it – wouldn’t reheating it just make it, um, dryer and tougher? The recipe I used reheats the brisket over low and slow heat, just like you cook it, in the crock pot the day of serving, and it turned out to be the tenderest, juiciest, most flavorful brisket I’ve ever had. It just fell apart with a fork- no need for a knife. (“That’s not a knoife. This is a knoife!” Name that quote.)
Homemade Caramel & Brown Sugar Bacon Ice Cream
If you’ve ever watched anything on the Food Network, for any length of time, you’ve probably seen at least one bacon dessert. After the last episode of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” and watching Chris Cosentino talk about pancetta ice cream- I knew it was time. I had to try it. I had, had, had to.
I let the ice cream churn while we were eating lunch, and when it was ready, served it to my parents and let them try and guess what it was. Coffee was the first guess. Then he got a bite of the good stuff and the lightbulb went off- “Oh! Bacon!” my dad announced.
It may be a totally unexpected pairing, but this ice cream was really, really good. Everyone liked it (although I’m definitely blessed with non-picky eaters in the family! :)). The bacon was definitely a novelty- very interesting and I’m definitely glad I tried it once. I thought it was better the next day, after it had a chance to freeze overnight. If I made it again, I don’t know if I’d add the bacon bits again though, unless someone requested it. I would definitely, definitely, definitely (and will in the very near future) make this ice cream batter again without the bacon though. It was – I’m telling you – unbelievable. Amazing. So rich and creamy and the flavor – with the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon? I don’t even know how to describe it- maybe like a cinnamon bun. Just plain good stuff.
While I was at the grocery store, shopping for all the ingredients, I picked up some leftover Easter candy that was marked down to like 25 cents. I got M&M speckled chocolate eggs, Starburst jelly beans (my favorite!), Snickers & Reese’s eggs, chocolate covered espresso beans (faint) and chocolate covered cookie dough (yum. yum yum yum yum yum.) And a Nestle Crunch bar shaped like an Easter bunny. There weren’t any Cadbury eggs left though. *sob* Not that I needed anything else.
I don’t remember where I was, but a couple weeks before Easter I overheard someone talking about an Easter bunny jar- fill the bottom with green candy (M&Ms or jelly beans, in my case) nestle an Easter bunny in the “grass” and surround him with Easter eggs. With my score of leftover Easter candy, I had plenty to work with, and a great way to store & display it all. It made a fun centerpiece for the Easter table. The air-tight apothecary jar was leftover from my scraproom (I got them from Hobby Lobby several years ago) and it kept everything sealed and fresh. The jar was originally a little fuller, but we snacked on it all weekend. *blush* Publix sells Jelly Bellies in individual colors, so I got two different flavors of green and mixed them together for the “grass” – Margarita and Sour Candy Apple. It just seemed wrong to serve Margarita jelly beans for Easter. But I did it anyway. >:D
These recipes below are exactly what I did – right or wrong – with my notes at the end of each recipe. All of these recipes except the potatoes I had never made before, so in several cases there are things I would change / do differently next time.
Fajita BBQ Beef Brisket Recipe
1 6-8 lb whole beef brisket, with layer of fat on bottom
TexJoy Fajita seasoning
TexJoy BBQ seasoning
1 pkg McCormick’s Dry Fajita seasoning
Rub meat with TexJoy fajita seasoning & place in a ziploc bag overnight.
When ready to cook, sprinkle with TexJoy BBQ seasoning.
Cook, fat side up, @ 225 degrees until it reaches an internal temperature of 170 (a digital thermometer with an alarm is the easiest way to do this). Splash with a little apple juice (about 1/4 cup), then sprinkle with McCormick’s Dry Fajita seasoning and cover with foil and return to oven until it reaches 190. Turn off oven and let rest for 2 hours.
After it has rested, slice it against the grain. Arrange the slices in a crock pot (the kind where the crock is removable) and place the crock in the fridge, sealed with plastic wrap. Collect all the juices in a jar and store in fridge. Brisket is better after it sits in the fridge overnight, so make it a day or two ahead.
When the day comes to serve, pull the crock and the juice container out of the fridge. Remove the fat from the juice (keep it for later, say for a gravy) and reheat the juice in a saucepan on the stove. When the juice is warm, pour over the brisket and turn the crock pot on. Let it warm on Low for 3-4 hours.
*Start Thursday or Friday night, cook the next day, and reheat on Sunday
Storing and reheating in the crock pot is definitely the way to go- genius! Makes serving day super easy! Just pull it out before church and by the time you get back, it’s ready! :) I couldn’t find the TexJoy seasonings (apparently they are only sold in Texas- bummer) so I substituted with a store-brand fajita seasoning from The Fresh Market and Paul Prudhomme BBQ seasoning. I really liked the BBQ seasoning, but I didn’t really care for the fajita seasoning. It sounded good (onion, garlic, paprika, red pepper, cumin, ginger, oregano, parsley and mustard), but enh. Next time I think I will go with a cajun/creole seasoning and a BBQ seasoning – two complementary seasonings with a little more spice to them! :)
This recipe would also probably do well in the crock pot, on the low setting. Although the dagburn 8-pound beast I got wouldn’t even remotely fit in my crockpot before it was sliced, and the one I have is huge- the crock won’t even fit in the dishwasher. An 8 lb brisket is enough to feed an army- we’ll be eating on ours until next Easter.
Hot Cross Buns Recipe
1 pkg low fat Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
1/4 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon fresly ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Grate nutmeg, then grind allspice and cloves in a coffee grinder to a fine powder. Mix all spices together with sugar. Roll out the crescent rolls dough into a sheet and press seams together. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the sugar/spice mixture, fold the dough over in half, and roll out until flat again. Repeat this two more times until you’ve used all the sugar/spice mix. Separate dough into 8 equal sections and roll into balls.
Arrange buns in a cake pan and bake for 20 mins at 350. Top with Amanda’s Favorite Glaze in a cross shape.
Amanda’s Favorite Glaze Recipe
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons milk
Heat the butter and milk together til the butter melts. Whisk into the sugar.
*You can prepare the dough and the glaze a day or two ahead to make serving day super simple- all you have to do is pull these out of the fridge and pop them in the oven.
I didn’t get a good picture of these because I wanted to serve the hot cross buns, well, hot and fresh out of the oven. Well, uh, you can’t really make a cross shape out of the glaze when the rolls are even remotely warm. Ya just can’t. So these probably weren’t even hot cross buns at all. They didn’t even have raisins in them. But to me, raisins are always optional. But I can tell ya one thing- these babies, whatever you call ’em, were goooooooooooood. Loved all the spices.
P.S. If I were going to make these again (and I absolutely will) and I weren’t trying to pass them off as hot cross buns (har har) and here’s what I’d do differently: I would roll out the crescent rolls dough into a sheet and press seams together, then sprinkle with most of the sugar/spice mixture, then roll back up, and cut into 8 slices, like cinnamon rolls. Then I would roll the uh, rolls in the remaining sugar & spices to coat all over. Bake for 20 mins @ 350, then top generously with lots and lots of Favorite Glaze. :D
Fried Black Eyed Peas Recipe
1 can black eyed peas
1/3 onion, quartered
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 heaping teaspoon diced jalapenos
Old Bay seasoning
peanut oil for frying
Drain peas and roast @ 400 for 15 mins with onion, garlic, & jalapenos. Arrange peas in a single layer on a cookie sheet or in an 8×8 baking dish, remove vegetables, cover and cool in the fridge overnight.
Heat oil to 375°. Fry peas for 6-8 minutes, or until you can see that they’re starting to brown a bit. Remove and place in a bowl- sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning and salt, to taste. Let them cool a little before eating so they’ll be crunchy.
To Reheat: Place in cold oven, turn heat to 400 for 15 mins.
*Drain the peas on Saturday, then fry them on Sunday.
Okay, ^^^ That’s how I did it. You can also start with dried peas and soak them overnight, then boil with the vegetables until just softened- if you want to go that route. 1 can of peas (about 14-15 oz?) makes 4 smallish to average sized side dish servings- there weren’t any leftovers for us. I honestly don’t think roasting the peas with the vegetables imparted them with any extra flavor. At all. I probably wouldn’t do it again. I did think they needed some kind of zip though, so next time I might sprinkle them with onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper after draining, then store them in the fridge. Then I wouldn’t have to bother with the vegetables when you don’t even use them in the finished product anyway. Definitely drain the peas & cool in a single layer overnight before frying though – or else there will be too much water in the peas and the oil will pop and foam too much.
Smashed Potatoes with Peas & Caramelized Onions Recipe
3 cups Ore Ida Steam & Mash Potatoes
1/3 cup milk
1 tbsp butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
5 oz frozen pearl onions, defrosted
5 oz frozen peas, defrosted
roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
Place the potatoes in a microwave safe bowl, add 1/3 cup water, and microwave on high for 12 mins, stirring halfway through.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the pearl onions and sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are golden browned and caramelized, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the peas and continue cooking until the peas are hot (about 4-5 mins). Season with salt and pepper.
When the potatoes are done, add 1/3 cup milk, 1 tbsp butter, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir lightly (I like them more “smashed” than totally mashed, but you can do however you prefer! :))
Dump the vegetables over the potatoes in the bowl, add the parsley and taste for salt and pepper.
*Make on Sunday
Makes 4 servings. You could certainly use 1 lb potatoes instead of the Steam & Mash potatoes, but I love them because they taste good, are real potatoes and are super easy. I hate peeling potatoes. If you use raw potatoes (try new potatoes), just peel them, chop them into cubes and boil until fork tender, about 20-30 mins, then go from there.
*Adapted from this recipe by Tyler Florence.
Homemade Caramel & Brown Sugar Bacon Ice Cream Recipe
5 strips bacon
2-3 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tbsp butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 3/4 cup half-and-half
5 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
To candy the bacon, preheat the oven to 400 F. Lay the strips of bacon on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or aluminum foil, shiny side down. Sprinkle 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons of brown sugar evenly over each strip of bacon, depending on length. Bake for 12-16 minutes. Midway during baking, flip the bacon strips over and drag them through the dark, syrupy liquid that’s collected on the baking sheet. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Once crisp and cool, chop into small bits. (Bacon bits can be stored in ziploc bag and chilled for a day or so.)
To make the ice cream custard, melt the butter in a heavy, medium-size saucepan. Stir in the brown sugar and half of the half-and-half. Pour the remaining half-and-half into a bowl set in an ice bath and set a mesh strainer over the top. In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks, then gradually add some of the warm brown sugar mixture to them, whisking the yolks constantly as you pour. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over low to moderate heat, constantly stirring and scraping the bottom with a heatproof spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula. Strain the custard into the half-and-half, stirring over the ice bath, until cool. Add vanilla and cinnamon.
Refrigerate the mixture overnight. Once thoroughly chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the bacon bits during the last moment of churning, or stir them in when you remove the ice cream from the machine.
*Make bacon & batter on Friday, let sit in fridge overnight. Churn on Saturday and freeze in an airtight container overnight. Serve on Sunday.
This recipe sounds kinda complicated, but it really isn’t, once you get into it. To make the ice cream ultra creamy, I added in 1 tbsp bacon grease with the butter- that was one of their secrets on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”. I loved it- I would definitely do that again – even if I didn’t do the actual bacon pieces. :)
You may now recoil in horror.
*Adapted from this recipe by David Lebovitz*
Thanks so much for looking- hope you had a wonderful weekend! :)