Meatless Fridays during Lent are a well-known Catholic tradition. Some Catholics even observe meatless Fridays not just in Lent but throughout the entire year, as a small form of penance in honor of the fact that it was on a Friday that Jesus died. But there is one Friday each year when the Church practically forbids us to perform penance: the Friday after Easter.
For many years, my friends and I have celebrated this Easter Friday as an excuse to host a blowout party known as “Meating Friday” — note the careful spelling! After depriving ourselves of meat on Fridays as a small penance throughout the long Lenten season, Meating Friday is a day when we gather around the table to joyfully dine together and toast the gifts of faith, friendship, laughter, and abundance. With meat.
Meating Friday is not (yet) an official Catholic feast day — the entire week after Easter Sunday is all one long Easter day in the Church’s eyes — but I’m hoping that it will catch on. As an enthusiastic carnivore, Meating Friday is a true holiday in my world, and I even brought it with me when I moved from the West Coast to the Midwest.
Is it ridiculous to consider fasting from meat for six days a year a hardship that we need to reclaim? Of course! But it’s a fun way to take in and share the abundance of this joyful season. And if you didn’t observe Lent this year, that’s okay — doubling down to mark the resurrection never hurt anyone. The only thing better than gathering your clan around the primordial cooking fire to roast flesh-meats is doing it to celebrate the Resurrection!
Last year, I took the day off from work to smoke a 16-lb Texas-style beef brisket for 35 guests, with friends providing the festive side dishes to share from their own family traditions, all accompanied by good drinks and lots of laughter. In other years, we’ve celebrated the holiday with chicken wings, burgers, and grilled sausages, always making sure to invite friends to contribute their own special treats.
Like every good holiday, there are legendary Meating Friday stories that get told and re-told year after year. My friends and I still joke about our rib cook-off one year, in which a contestant’s great-looking ribs proved to be entirely raw when we bit in, much to the chef’s horror. His secret “slow and low” grill method was more like “too slow and too low!”
One side dish that makes an appearance every year is a recipe from my wife’s family for “Auntie’s Beans.” This protein-rich bean dish is nearly a one-bowl Meating Friday celebration in itself, and it will no doubt make a lovely contribution to your table as you kick off a new tradition with your friends and family on this Easter (Meating) Friday. Alleluia!
1 32-oz can pork and beans
2 16-oz cans lima beans (drained & rinsed) *You can also substitute any canned white beans
1 16-oz can red kidney beans (drained & rinsed)
1/2 to 3/4 lb bacon (diced)
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 lb hamburger
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
1/4 teaspoon chili powder (or more to taste)
1. Sauté onion and bacon together in large fry pan until bacon is crisp and onion is translucent. Remove from pan and set aside. Drain and discard grease.
2. In same fry pan, brown hamburger and break apart. Drain and discard grease.
3. Transfer browned meat, bacon, and onion to 4+ quart dutch oven or crock pot. Add remaining ingredients, mix together well, and bake at 325 for 90 minutes to 2 hours. (Or cook on low in crock pot for 6+ hours.)