Every so often I’ll roast a leg of lamb. Actually, a 1/2 leg as it has become trendy lately to serve Lamb Shanks in some restaurants so they cut that bit off. Then they have started taking some of the other shoulder end for “boneless roasts”. Leaving a chunk with the one big leg bone in it. This is sized for that 4 to 5 lb roast. Size up for larger ones.
I put the leg in a roasting pan, put on a modest layer of “Greek Seasoning” (not sure what’s in it, came in a Christmas present set of jars with magnetic lids that stick to the fridge… I think it’s your basic Italian + Anise or something with a bit of anise flavor.)
That gets 15 minutes at 450 F then 20 minutes / pound at 350 F (those afflicted with Metric Only will need to convert that… basically HIGH then MEDIUM heat).
After that, we have roast lamb dinner. Then many days of lamb sandwiches, lamb snacks, and a few more lamb dinners (put some of the pan drippings in a skillet and warm the lamb slices in that ‘au juice’ to avoid drying when heating. Pour the au juice back into the roasting pan when done).
Eventually, we are left with the bone and a few bits of meat / cartilage on it, and some other trimmings bits, in the pan of drippings with a layer of lamb fat. As I don’t toss anything out that can be used to good effect, I turn this into Lamb Bone Stew.
It is best if their is a cup or so of meat still on the bone, but I’ve made it with near none and it was still pretty good.
1/2 to 2/3 cup Barley (more for stew, less for soup)
1/2 to 2/3 cup Lentils (“)
2 or 3 Carrots
1 cup celery
“sprinkle” of dried garlic granules or about a fat clove of garlic crushed
“a few” grinds of pepper
“sprinkle over” with salt to taste in the last step of prep.
IF the flavor is a bit thin, or just because it tastes better, Drop in a Vegetable Bouillon cube or two after the simmer.
I rinse and scrape the carrot with the back of the knife. Held at a 45 degree angle most chefs knifes nicely scrape off the skin without taking off slabs of carrot like a “peeler” does. Trim off the ends, then chop into dice about 1 cm on a side. (For those afflicted with English Only units, that’s about 1/3 – 1/4 inch)
The Celery I just take the bunch, trim about 1/4 inch off the top (so any dead dry bits hit the dumper) and then start chopping from the end in until I have a cup or so. Sometimes more. Yes, “leaves and all”. The leaves are tasty and the small stem bits is just less to chop. Toss that in the pot.
Peel and chop the onion into dice and into the pot.
Add water to cover the bone (about 3 inches in my case for the small bone roast, bigger roaster and bigger bones will need more water, but also more of the vegetable stuff and grains… I’d double all that if using a whole leg of lamb) My pot is about a 25 cm or 10 inches diameter so if using something bigger, adjust accordingly. I’d guess I’ve got about 1/2 gallon of water in it by this point., but it might be a gallon max. Call it 3 liters. Put a couple of grinds of pepper into the pot, and about 1/2 tsp more Greek Seasoning. Sprinkle over with salt. Give a light sprinkle of dry garlic granules or crush a clove of garlic and add it.
Set it on the stove on high until it starts to simmer then turn it down and add the barley and lentils. Stir just enough to assure they aren’t a pile in one spot, and then cover. Let it simmer about an hour or two.
Now its time to adjust the flavor profile. It will want a fair amount of salt, so put in about 1/2 what you think it wants. Taste it. If it is “thin”, you will want to jazz up the pot with some Vegetable Bouillon cubes. (This avoids a conflict of flavors you would get with Beef Bouillon cubes – it works to use Beef, but the flavor becomes indistinct between beef and lamb). At this time you can add any other left over lamb that wasn’t on the bone, should there be any. Then stir a bit, let it simmer another 5 to 10 minutes, and do your final spice adjustments. Salt / Pepper as needed.
That’s pretty much it. If too much water, you get a great soup. If too little, a thick lamb barley stew ;-) Next time I make it I’ll actually measure the water used ;-)
I’ve also sometimes added any leftover vegetables in the fridge. We eat about 1/2 a can of peas or green beans between the two of us, the rest goes into a plastic tub in the fridge. Those are great added to soups and stews. For folks who can eat corn, it can work too. While I’m not fond of it, any leftover tomatoes can go in the pot for a more West Coast Trendy style. Avoid things from the cabbage / kale / broccoli family. Long cooking makes them a bit stinky and soups / stews are long slow cook with many reheats.
It is also possible, though not as rich, to make this with rice, oats (whole; not rolled), or other grains instead of Barley. I like the barley best though. Rice is bland, oats chewy if whole and mushy if rolled. “Someday” I’m going to try it with sorghum. Dried peas can be used instead of the lentils but tend to dissolve into the soup, while lots of other beans can be used if you cook them in a change of water or two first (to rinse out the pentose sugar that causes gas) then add them. I have used a cup of “15 bean soup mix” and it is interesting too.
And if you wish to add “soup noodles” like stars or letters, do that in the last 10 minutes. They just keep absorbing water until the get really big and dissolve otherwise.
When done with the first cook, let it cool and just set the whole pan in the fridge. After that, just microwave a bowl of it for about 2 minutes and add some crackers or a slice of buttered bread for a pretty good meal.
I do NOT skim the fat off the pan drippings. You can if you are paranoid about fats, but it really does enhance the flavor and energy / bowl a lot. Atherosclerosis and heart disease / cholesterol issues have more to do with not getting your 2 grams of Vit. C per day than fat intake, from what I’ve read / watched / found in investigating. Low fat diets just leave you with cravings while leaving the fat in has you “not hungry” for many hours. One bowl of this for dinner and I’m good until breakfast the next day.
Along the way, reheating the leftovers, you can scrape the final bits of meat off of the bone. IF you didn’t have any extra bits to add, scrape earlier. Even with no meat added and nearly none on the bone, it makes a nice stew-soup.
IF really wanting to get all you can from it, crack the bones with a mallet or the back of a heavy cleaver prior to putting the stew together. More marrow comes out that way.
It is possible to use the bone (once the stew is all gone) as an addition to a “bone broth” pot, but I’m not usually that motivated nor short of bones…
By doing this, we’ll get about 2 weeks worth of various meals off one 4 to 5 lb 1/2 leg of lamb. If you are the sort that gets tired of that for “every other meal”, you can freeze things at any of the steps with only small loss of flavor. Bone & Pan drippings to the freezer and make stew weeks later (though hard to get all the goodies out of the pan that way). Or make the stew and put it up in freezer tubs of one or two servings each. Similarly a chunk of roast lamb can be frozen for use later. When on my own, I’ve made it in a smaller size using a lamb chop with lots of bones in it. (The cheap chops are the ones with more bones).
We like lamb enough that we have generally not needed to resort to freezing bits ;-) but I have done it from time to time depending on the demands of my schedule.
This makes a very hearty and very comforting lunch on cold wet or snowy days. Two slices of buttered bread with some sliced, salted and peppered lamb between them makes a great simple sandwich. IF you cut off a large chunk of the meat and put it in the fridge in a tub, then you can make the stew while you still have sandwich cuts. One of those simple sandwiches and a bowl of this stew is just heaven on a cold day, but very filling.