How to Cook Easter Dinner for a Smaller Group
Easter looks different than usual this year. With the entire country following social distancing guidelines—and many cities and states asking residents to self-quarantine—many of us will not be hosting our usual Easter dinner. But just because there won't be a crowd around the table doesn't mean you can still enjoy an iconic Easter main course like lamb, ham, or salmon. Sure, it might be wise to skip baking a whole ham when you're only cooking for your immediately family, but that doesn't necessarily mean you need to do away with the traditional protein entirely. Consider serving a half or quarter ham, or maybe a nice cut of pork instead.
Here, we've gathered practical suggestions that will help you scale down your favorite Easter recipes so that they're just the right size to serve fewer people. We're also sharing ideas for cuts of protein that you may not of thought of, as well as a few ideas for the undervalued leftovers. Whether you're preparing dinner for two, four, or a couple more, create new traditions this year and sit down to a luxurious, festive Easter meal.
Buy a Half or Quarter Ham Rather Than a Whole
You don't need to bake a whole ham to enjoy this classic Easter main. Instead, ask your butcher for a quarter or half ham, which has all the salty, sweet, and smoky flavor of the whole ham at a fraction of the cost; plus, it still ensures a showstopping presentation. Try making our brandied half ham or scale down your favorite recipe for a smaller cut. To help adjust cooking time, check out our foolproof method for baking ham—it works with any glaze.
Wondering how much ham you'll need for your group? Follow this handy guide: A bone-in quarter ham serves four to six people. If your immediate family is a little larger, or if you want to ensure there's leftovers, a bone-in half ham, which serves eight to ten people, is a good choice. Prefer to buy boneless? Factor in a half pound per person.
Skip Ham and Buy a Nice Cut of Pork Instead
Another option is to forgo ham entirely and opt for uncured cuts of pork. A thick cut bone-in pork chop differentiates a weeknight chop from a holiday meal. Pork tenderloins and loins are also great options for fancier presentations and smaller portions. You can even bring some of the ham-like flavors you love at Easter to a pork dish by wrapping it in bacon or stuffing your pork chops for an extra special feel.
Try a Different Cut of Lamb this Year
Though it's often considered essential for an Easter gathering, lamb isn't a meat many of us eat regularly; for Easter we tend to buy bigger, less expensive cuts of lamb like leg of lamb or lamb shoulder that easily feed a crowd. For a smaller group, splurge on a pricier cut like lamb rib chops, which are always a treat. A rack of lamb generally has eight ribs and serves four, but you could also buy individual rib chops, factoring in at least two ribs per person. Cuts like lamb loin and shoulder chops are just as flavorful and tender as other cuts of lamb, and they are sold by the piece, so it's easy to get the exact amount. Another casual yet decadent option is our fully loaded lamb burgers.
Opt for Salmon Fillets
When it comes to salmon, all you need is a few fillets to prepare a spectacular main. Slow roasting salmon in the oven highlights the fish's buttery texture, and, despite the name slow, it only takes about 15 minutes to cook salmon fillets. Equally quick, sear them in a pan or roast them in parchment paper envelopes. For special recipes, try this one-pan Wild Salmon with Romanesco Pilaf or our Slow-Baked Salmon with Cherry Tomatoes.
Roast a Chicken
Lastly, a whole roasted chicken turns a classic weeknight protein into a holiday centerpiece. Don't overlook how much a perfectly roasted chicken is appreciated by family members. One four-pound chicken should serve four, and there are so many different ways to roast this beloved protein.
We all know that leftover meat makes a pretty awesome sandwich, as evidenced by these leftover pork sandwiches. Beyond that there are endless creative options. Dice the cooked meat and mix it into pastas, frittatas, egg scrambles, make a meaty potato hash, or fried rice. Turn leftover salmon into salmon cakes, a salmon salad, or DIY baked salmon sushi.