Chef Marc Forgione shares his Easter traditions and delicious recipes

(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for NYCWFF)
(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for NYCWFF) /

For Chef Marc Forgione, Easter traditions continue no matter the current climate. With some delicious recipes, every holiday celebration can be one to cherish.

For many people, including Chef Marc Forgione, delicious food and holiday traditions bring family and friends together. Although this year’s Easter celebration might look a little different, the feeling behind those special moments continues. Since food brings everyone to the table, Chef Forgione looks to some favorite recipes to continue the holiday traditions.

Recently, I spoke with Chef Forgione about his Easter traditions and his celebration this year. He said, “since we’re all still at home and quarantining, I think obviously the holidays are going to look a little different this year but I don’t think that means that we can’t celebrate them with the people we love.” One way to continue those traditions and to celebrate is through food.

For Chef Forgione, food has always been a family affair. The celebrated chef and restaurateur grew up around one of the most influential chefs of American cuisine, his father Larry Forgione. While his father influenced him, his impressive culinary career draws from many experiences.

One common thread in Chef Forgione’s food is the focus on delicious ingredients. Whether it is seasonal produce or supporting a local butcher, the attention to all the little details makes each dish pop.

While Chef Forgione has years of experience, cooking is for everyone. A holiday can be a perfect time to start an appreciation of cooking.

With everyone staying in this Easter holiday, many novice home cooks are stepping into the kitchen. While most people are not professional chefs, Chef Forgione encourages everyone to have fun with cooking. He said “experiment as much as possible. Don’t restrict yourself to following a recipe exactly.”

Still, many home cooks prefer to have a recipe as a starting point. While someone like Chef Forgione can look into a pantry and see a myriad of possibilities, the home cook might feel stumped. Luckily, he is providing delicious Easter recipes that anyone can make.

In many homes, ham is a traditional Easter meal. Chef Forgione said “(o)ne of my favorite Easter dishes is ham but I like to add my own twist to it by creating a delicious whisky glaze.

Luckily for everyone, Chef Forgoine has graciously provided his recipe for Whisky-glazed ham or pork loin. While this recipe is perfect for Easter, it is a recipe for any time of the year. This recipe could become a family favorite or a family tradition.

"Whisky-glazed ham or pork loin by Marc ForgioneIngredients:4 to 6 pound boneless fully cooked smoked ham or boneless pork loinKosher saltBlack pepper1/3 cup light brown sugar1/3 cup whisky1 tablespoon orange zest1/4 teaspoon ground cloves1/4 teaspoon ground allspiceMethod:Pre-heat the oven to 350 degreesScore the pork and season with salt and pepperBake ham or pork loin on a roasting pan or tray with a rack until the meat reaches 120 degrees when a meat thermometer is stuck in the thickest partWhile the pork is baking, simmer the other in a small pot for 10 minutes and set asideTurn the oven temperature up to 375 degrees and glaze the pork with the sauce every 10 minutes until it is 140 degrees in the thickest partRemove the pork from rack and pour any juices left in the roasting pan into a small pot and combine with any remaining glaze. Simmer while the pork rests. This is now your sauceAllow the pork to rest for at least 20 minutes loosely wrapped in foil before servingCarve at table"

While the main dish is always the star of the table, the meal isn’t complete without side dishes. Chef Forgione said “for an Easter dinner with ham or pork loin as the centerpiece, it’s important to choose simple sides that will really complement pork. One of my favorite side dishes is a potato salad with beautiful spring garlic (in season now), egg, and of course, bacon (because we all know it makes everything better).

For those unfamiliar, spring garlic has a nutty-onion flavor. This ingredient adds nuance to a potato salad. In many ways, this recipe builds on a familiar dish. Many people have traditional potato salad recipes and are familiar with the dish. By using spring garlic or even adding a little bacon, those traditional dishes are revitalized.

Marc Forgione
Photos courtesy of Marc Forgione /

Here’s how to make Chef Forgoine’s Potato, Bacon, and Egg Salad.

"Potato, Bacon, and Egg Salad by Marc ForgoineIngredients:½ pound bacon2 pounds baby potatoes, cooked (boil in salted water until easily pierced with a knife)2 tbl chopped parsley1 full sour or dill pickle, seeds removed, roughly chopped2 tbl pickle juice2 stalks spring/green garlic (or scallions)1 hardboiled egg, shell removed1 tbl Dijon mustard2 tbl sour cream3-4 dashes of your favorite hot sauce (depending on how spicy you like it)Kosher saltFreshly ground black pepperMethod:Slice the bacon into 1/4 “ pieces or lardons and cook until crispy. Remove and set aside for later.While the bacon is rendering, boil the baby potatoes in salted water until cooked through (when it can be easily pierced with a knife). While potatoes are still warm/hot, slice in half or into ¼” disks (depending on size of potatoes). Place in a large bowl.Add chopped parsley, chopped pickles, and pickle juice to bowlIf using spring garlic, remove tough green stems. Slice white/light green part in half lengthwise and then slice thinly crosswise. Add to bowl.Using a grater (smaller holes), grate the hardboiled egg into the bowl.Add reserved bacon, mustard, sour cream, and hot sauce. Season with salt and black pepper. Mix together until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed."

While some people might sit down for a traditional Easter dinner, other families prefer an Easter brunch. Even at brunch, a ham or a pork dish is a lovely idea.

Chef Forgoine said, “Just because it’s brunch doesn’t mean you can’t still incorporate a traditional Easter ham or pork. One of my favorite brunch dishes is something called Asparagus in Ambush, which is actually based on my father’s recipe, and uses fresh asparagus (in season now) wrapped in ham and cheese.”

This recipe reinforces Chef Forgione’s emphasis on seasonal ingredients. Spring asparagus is quite flavorful. One bite will convince anyone that the best ingredients do matter.

Asparagus in Ambush is an iconic dish. From foodies to a novice cook, this recipe is one to keep tucked away. While this dish is perfect for Easter, this asparagus dish would be perfection on Mother’s Day, too.

Asparagus in Ambush, Marc Forgione
Photos courtesy of Marc Forgione /

Here’s how to make Aspargus in Ambush.

"Asparagus in AmbushGreen asparagusExtra-virgin olive oilSaltBlack pepperLeftover ham slices2 tbl chopped fresh parsleyYour favorite sliced cheese (I recommend Crowley but Jarlesberg or Gruyere would work well too)Lettuce (mixed greens, romaine, etc.)Juice of one lemonMethod:Drizzle the asparagus with extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus in a 425 degree oven until just cooked through (about 8 minutes)Lay out a sheet of aluminum foil. Lay 15-20 spears of asparagus out on the foil.Place ham over the bottom half of the asparagus (so top of asparagus spears are uncovered).Sprinkle ham with the parsley.Lay your favorite sliced cheese over the ham.Place under the broiler for 3-4 minutes until the cheese is melted.While the asparagus is under the broiler, make a vinaigrette with the lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper by emulsifying together in a small bowl. Lightly dress the lettuces with the vinaigrette.Serve the asparagus in ambush immediately with the green salad."

Whether you make one of these Chef Marc Forgione recipes, cook your own traditional family meal or even let the kids create the menu, the holiday is a time to be spend together. From the people at the table or the people joining virtually, it is a moment to be grateful.

While Chef Forgione will be taking the day to celebrate with his loved ones, he knows that the restaurant industry and the food workers are facing difficult times. He wants to “thank all of the hardworking food workers across the country who are committed to helping to feed us during this difficult time.”

As everyone gathers around their table this Easter, take a moment to find gratitude in these trying times. Regardless of the ham being perfection or the kids eating too much candy, this year’s Easter celebration is moment to be thankful for what we have.

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How is your family celebrating Easter this year?