Smoked leg of Larry the lamb and a scrummy lamb stock


Smoked leg of lamb

This fantastic smoked leg used to belong to one of the lambs of an ex-colleague of Dad's. They both are retired now (Dad and the colleague, sheep obviously is not only retired but also dead). The farmer lady used to work as the senior nurse in the hospital where Dad was consultant and she keeps some livestock as a hobby, mainly sheep and chicken I think.

This is real organic home farming, all the animals have names. She used to have a ram by the same name as my dad.  Coincidence!? Or did she find her boss a bit stubborn perhaps?

One Easter we had the leg of Pekka. Pekka is a very popular, solid and old-fashioned Finnish boy's name. I once dated a Pekka who contrary to his dependable name proved out to be anything but. When Norwegians joke about the Finns, one of the main Finnish characters in the jokes is called Pekka. The jokes are a bit lame and not very witty. Much like Norwegians. Just kidding. Norwegians are a hoot.

So this lady knows her sheep and the sheep know her. When she comes home she’ll always give them a shout “Hello boys, what’s up?” It goes for the girls as well I suppose, and they all flock to see her and baa and meh the latest paddock goss.

My parents buy a whole sheep from her once a year and they always have all the four legs smoked. These legs have featured in many a family celebration. We had one in our wedding buffet, there is one in the table at Christmas and Easter. My family usually eats it cold, as a side dish or on top of open sandwiches or Karelian pasties, but husband likes the meat best when it's a bit warm. A few warm slices wrapped in a flatbread with salad leaves and tomato or on a toasted ciabatta with cheese and salad makes a happy hubby. It’s also great in a quiche or a pasta dish for instance.

We have been eating this leg over Easter and today I sliced the rest to freeze in portions for future use. Now I see why my parents need a dog (I see the need for lots of reasons to be honest, I love dogs, but this is another one). When you are cutting the meat you get these iffy bits that are kind of part skin or part fat but also part meat, so you don't want to throw them away and that's where the dog comes in.

Sister and brother sharing the off-bits.
When my dad cuts whatever it is he is cutting, leg of lamb, chunk of smoked moose (carving is a mans job in my parents' household as is gutting, filleting and curing fish, opening wine bottles, frying meatballs and blinis and making Miss Helga's Baltic Herring stew - I will have to get the recipe soon - everything else in the kitchen is woman's work) the dog parks herself on the floor next to Dad patiently waiting for those bits. To her they are the best bits in the world and Dad is the ultimate superhero for conjuring up the tasty morsels. Sometimes my brother joins her to take his share of the goodies as well.

So with no dog and my brother in another country I actually ate most the funny bits myself thus negating any possible slimming effects of the run I had earlier. I couldn't manage all and there was quite a lot left and the bones as well, so I decided to use it all for a gorgeous lamb stock.

Smoked leg of lamb
I roasted the bones and skin and fat and whatever was left with carrot, celery, onion and garlic for 45 minutes and now it is boiling on the stove with rosemary, thyme and bay leaf for about 4-6 hours. I will have to go to bed at some point, which is when I will drain it, let it cool a bit and put it in the fridge overnight. Then I will remove the fat that will rise to the top and freeze the stock.

I will report later how it turned out. Unless it was a disaster in which case I'll just brush it under the carpet metaphorically.

Lamb stock

Bones of a Sunday roast leg of lamb (or in this case a smoked lamb)
1 large yellow onion
1 celery stalk
5 garlic cloves
1 large carrot

Herbs (e.g. rosemary, thyme, bay leaf)
2 tsp blackpeppers (whole) or whole allspice

Roast the lamb bones with the chopped veg in 200C oven with a drizzle of oil for 45 min. Then place in a pan, cover with water, add herbs and the blackpepper. You can salt very lightly if you like, but it's probably best to avoid in order to not oversalt the dish you will ultimately be using the stock for. Cook covered on low heat for 4-6 hours. Drain and leave to cool. If you like you can reduce the stock further to be diluted again when cooked. Refridgerate. Remove the layer of fat from top and keep in fridge (keeps for several days) or freezer (keeps up to 3 months).

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