Lamb is often the centerpiece of Easter dinner.

We’re celebrating both Easter and Passover in the same month this year (occasionally the two occur in different months), and I thought it would be nice to share two traditional Passover and Easter recipes, respectively: the first from my grandmother, Ida Wertheimer, who made this brisket for our family for years (I make it now) and the second from my friend Janis Liu, who is an amazing cook and who serves her famous leg of lamb each Easter. Even if you don’t celebrate either holiday, the recipes would be nice for any family dinner, dinner party, etc.

Nanny Ida’s Beef Brisket (serves 4 to 6)


One day before serving—
One 4- to 5-pound first-cut brisket
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, all to taste
Three tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 envelope Lipton onion soup mix
1 small can tomato sauce
Two to three cans sliced carrots, unopened
Two to three cans small whole potatoes, unopened


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle both sides of brisket with spices. Place brisket, fat side up, in large roasting pan/baking dish. Pour Worcestershire sauce over meat. Roast for 30 minutes uncovered. Remove pan from oven and reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Add very hot tap water to roasting pan, until meat is just about covered. Add Lipton soup mix and tomato sauce. Cover and cook for three hours.

Remove brisket from oven and cool slightly (keep it covered). Refrigerate overnight. Some fat will have solidified in pan; remove it and discard. Take brisket out of pan, and with a sharp knife, slice the fat off the meat, being careful not to cut the meat off while you’re doing this. Slice the meat into thin pieces. Pour the gravy that’s in the pan through a strainer and into a bowl to remove any extra fat.

Open and drain cans of carrots and potatoes.

In a large baking dish, put sliced meat, gravy and canned carrots and potatoes. Heat, covered with foil, for about an hour at 350 degrees. You can cook the potatoes and carrots in a separate dish with some of the gravy, covered, for one hour at 350 if you prefer.


You can make the meat and gravy ahead of time and freeze them for up to one month. I slice the meat and wrap it in plastic wrap, and put the gravy in Tupperware. Defrost in the refrigerator for a day or two before serving. Then put meat and gravy in a large baking dish with the canned carrots and potatoes, and heat, covered with foil, for an hour at 350 degrees, or until piping hot.

Janis’s Roast Leg of Lamb with Rosemary
(serves 4 to 6)

This lamb needs to be marinated in the refrigerator overnight.

1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons prepared Dijon-style mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 cloves garlic, minced
5-pound whole leg of lamb
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt


In a small bowl, combine the honey, mustard, rosemary, ground black pepper, lemon zest, and garlic. Mix well and apply to the lamb. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (230 degrees Celsius).

Place lamb on a rack in a roasting pan and sprinkle with salt to taste.

Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 400 F (200 C) and roast for 55 to 60 more minutes for medium rare. The internal temperature should be at least 145 F (63 C) when taken with a meat thermometer. Let the roast rest for about 10 minutes before carving.