Greek Orthodox Churches will celebrate Easter on April 28, a week after many Christians in the Western Hemisphere. Separate calendars are the reason for the lapse. Western Churches follow the Gregorian calendar, and Eastern Orthodox Christians follow the Julian calendar. Greek Easter also must be after Passover, as Pascha (Easter) is derived from the Greek word “Passover.”
Though Chris Kletsidis, executive chef at Kyma in Roslyn, admits he isn’t religious, Greek Easter holds a special place in his heart. His father worked in the restaurant business, and Greek Easter was one of the few days they closed. It was a rare chance to spend time with him roasting lamb.
“Back then [the lamb was roasted] by hand, so you were kind of forced to hang out together all day,” says Kletsidis, who recently finished a Greek Easter menu for Kyma. It includes Tsoureki (Easter bread), Avgolemono (Egg Lemon Soup), lamb and lemon potatoes.
But he didn’t mind. It was him and his dad, so he goes where the lamb and his family are, regardless of the date.
“We’d just talk about the lamb and other things, too, not that I remember,” Kletsidis says. “He passed away about 35 years ago, so it’s been a while. You know when there is a silence that is not awkward? It was comfortable silence.”
Though he didn’t teach us to roast lamb by hand, Kletsidis did dish to Edible on his favorite Easter foods and shared how to make a simple side.
Edible Long Island: What is the ideal way to spend Greek Easter?
Chris Kletsidis: Traditionally, roasting a whole lamb. Years back, that was what the people did in Greece. They didn’t have many food options. They would raise their lambs, and that would be one of the main staples of the meal.
ELI: What is your favorite memory of Greek Easter?
CK: Roasting lambs. The whole prep, the whole morning of Easter. My dad and I would get out and season the lamb, tie it out on the stick and then we would four to six hours monitoring the lamb and rotating it. Different family members would come out. It was a big family event…with 20-25 people.
ELI: Twenty-five people. How big was the lamb?
CK: It was about 25 pounds. Then you make salads, and lemon potatoes are a big part. Sometimes there are spinach pies.
Recipe: Lemon Potatoes
- 1 – Full half deep pan
- 3/4 full medium potatoes (80 count)
- 1 1/3 chopped Vidalia onions, any size
- 1 1/3 chopped tomatoes, any size
- 1 cup chopped/minced fresh rosemary
- 1/2 cup sliced garlic (fresh)
- 1 cup dry oregano
- 3-4 kitchen spoons chicken base
- 1/2 bottle or more “real” lemon juice
- 1/2-3/4 cups olive oil
- Add water to where the potatoes are covered.
- Bake it covered in aluminum foil at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes.
- Bake it uncovered at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes.