04/04/2012 04:15 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

Easter Smackdown: Ham vs. Lamb

By Alessandra Bulow, Food & Wine

"Most people serve lamb or ham at the Easter meal," says Food & Wine's Tina Ujlaki. "Sure you can have both, but Easter is always on Sunday, and the next day is always a school day, so you don't want to have a very heavy meal that's going to send you straight to bed afterward." Decisions, decisions. Here, Tina weighs the options so you can plan the perfect menu.


Leg of Lamb: A traditional bone-in leg of lamb is the most dramatic Easter centerpiece and serves quite a few people (about 8 to 12). It can be cooked low and slow or at a superhigh temperature. It can be a bit of a challenge to carve, so if you're concerned about being able to slice it, opt for a boneless leg of lamb. Butterflying the leg can help it cook more quickly. Recipes for Leg of Lamb

Rack of Lamb: If you're really crunched for time, a rack of lamb is the best choice. It cooks in 20 minutes, it's the tenderest piece of meat and it's the easiest to carve -- there's nothing to it. One drawback is that a rack of lamb can be a little pricey, so it might be best for a small number of guests. More Lamb Recipes


Whole Fresh Ham: A fresh ham is a commitment, because it needs to be marinated or brined and takes several hours to cook. But having a ham in the house is like having money in the bank. It serves 18 to 20 people and guarantees delicious leftovers. A bone-in ham can be tricky to carve, but the advantage is that the bone keeps the ham moist and the ham bone can be used to make a delicious pea soup.

Smoked Ham: The lowest maintenance choice is a smoked ham, because it comes precooked. Simply add a glaze (shortcut: combine apricot jam with Dijon mustard) or a crust to the ham, cover it and stick it in the oven to warm. You can also make a side sauce -- madeira and mushrooms go very well with ham. A boneless ham is the easiest to carve, but if you still have a fear of slicing, buy a spiral-cut ham. More Ham Recipes


Veal: Not a lamb or ham lover? Make a classic French veal stew with an amazing silky sauce and lots of seasonal baby vegetables and herbs. More Veal Recipes

More from Food & Wine:
Spring Hors D'Oeuvres
Easter Appetizers
Easter Brunch Recipes
Beautiful Desserts
Easter Recipes