I was planning to make chili. In fact, we had just come back from the supermarket and I had brought it all home with me. The fresh meat, the chili beans. Big sweet onions. Diced tomatoes. We had not finished unpacking when the phone rang.

“My boss just gave me a 13 pound leg of lamb for Christmas,” he said. “We’ve got a great roast.”

“Thirteen pounds? I’ve never seen a leg of lamb that big.”

“It’s huge,” he said. “I’m sending Sandy over with it. She’ll be there in a few minutes.”

Indeed she was. By the time she brought it upstairs, she could hardly breathe and all I could say was “Are we sure that’s lamb? It’s gigantic.”

“Yes,” she said, leaning on the fridge and trying to breathe.


I cleared out the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. By angling it slightly, we got the door closed, but it wasn’t easy. Sandy went home.

Garry and I ate dinner. No big surprise that I was thinking about lamb. I went online to see the latest greatest advice on cooking bone-in leg of lamb. I was pleased to see we have gone back to the “torch it for 15 minutes, then cook the rest slowly” which is how I learned to do it rather than the “medium heat and cook it until it is gray, tough, and flavorless.” The newer information suggests serving it medium rare, at about 135 degrees on the thermometer. The previous generation of lamb recipes says 160 to 170 degrees. Which is desiccated and, in my opinion, inedible.

Some sites are recommending using an oven roasting bag. What struck me was that there was no information on roasts larger than 10 pounds … and most seemed to believe that a leg of lamb will never exceed seven pounds including the bone. I knew I did not have a pan big enough to cook that piece of meat.

I confided my concern to Garry who suggested we weigh and measure it. He brought the scale to the kitchen and set on the stove. We hauled the huge roast out of the fridge and weighed it. The scale said eleven pounds, but I’m positive this scale always leaves off a couple of pounds, so I was forced to believe that my son had it right. Thirteen pounds. This would later be confirmed when we unwrapped it and there was a tag that announced it was a “restaurant cut full leg 13.13 lbs.”

Moreover, it measured 22 inches long. The biggest roasting pan I could find in any store was 17-1/2 inches. I wasn’t sure it would fit in the oven, much less the pan. Garry thought maybe the butcher at Hannaford might be willing to cut off the shank for us.


We had to go buy a few things anyhow, so nothing ventured, nothing gained. I needed a gigantic roasting pan. Extra extra-large turkey roasting bags. Fresh rosemary and maybe a few other fresh herbs. Heavy duty aluminum foil in the extended play version. A veggie to go with dinner. I had been planning to bake corn bread, but the change in menu suggested hot buttered rolls and something green. Which turned out to be spinach because we like it, it’s quick to prepare, and they still had some. Yesterday, the grocery shelves were over-flowing. Today, half the shelves were empty. Denuded. Locusts? No, just Christmas.

While we were at it, I bought little red roasting potatoes and a pound of bacon because we might as well all finish off the evening with a trip to the hospital to deal with pancreatitis, the result of massive over-indulgence in rich food. Sandy and Kaity are doing the dessert specialties and I had a mince-pie which I had promised Garry I would bake. (I did.)

Hannaford said “no way, absolutely not.” If you didn’t buy it there, they won’t touch it. Time for plan B. I called my son.


“It’s beautiful. It’s huge. It’s too big for the biggest turkey roasting pan. Do you have anything you could use to hack off a piece? I can deal with everything else, but it has to fit in the pan.”

“I have a Sawzall,” he said, uncertainly. “Not terribly sanitary, but it’ll cut through stainless steel, so I suppose it’ll cut a leg of lamb.”

“That leg will be roasted for hours after we cut it. That should sterilize it. I don’t think we have any other choice. Maybe a restaurant would have the right size pans and ovens, but we don’t.”


And so it went. Owen bought a new Sawzall blade, wrapped the rest of the saw in plastic. Then he and Garry wrestled the roast into submission and removed the top of it, which turned out to be a good size crown roast. I wrapped it up and stowed it in the freezer. Another dinner awaits.

I don’t know exactly how the day will shake out, but I’m sure it’ll be fine. Not sure if I’ll cook it in the bag or do the broil-then-slow-roast. I didn’t expect those herbs to be so chopping-knife resistant, but I realized I have a food processor. I don’t have to do it by hand.

There will be dinner. I will not be beaten by a leg of a lamb. I shall prevail!


44 thoughts on “THE CHRISTMAS LEG

    • Marilyn Armstrong December 24, 2016 / 10:53 am

      Thank you 🙂 I must make a great feast of it to honor its memory. Perhaps we should name it? Hmm. I need to find a good name so when it goes onto the table, we can talk to it personally. Merry Christmas!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. kim scaravelli December 24, 2016 / 9:31 am

    I believe in you! You WILL conquer the lamb!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marilyn Armstrong December 24, 2016 / 10:51 am

      Faith is a wondrous thing 🙂 This is my pause to have coffee and ponder ovens and spice mixtures and whether or not I should also bake brownies and/or cornbread. Why are we all so obsessed with the food? Everyone thinks we are obsessed by the gifts and wrapping — but that’s the EASY part. It’s the meal that lays you out 😀

      Merry Christmas!


  2. susieshy45 December 24, 2016 / 9:31 am

    Lovely post and lucky you. Hope it tastes good because of all the efforts you put to make it good- it should.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marilyn Armstrong December 24, 2016 / 10:49 am

      Thank you! I figure as long as I don’t overcook it, how wrong can I go, right? Merry Christmas 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. angloswiss December 24, 2016 / 9:40 am

    What a great article for Christmas Eve, I am still laughing and what a great leg of lamb. It seems to me that everything is bigger in the States. I remember my lamb chops in a special New York Meat restaurant, with photos of baseball greats on the walls. I got six mega lamb shops that filled up the plate. The side dish was serve separatly. Never seen anything like it before, but that leg of lamb – are you sure it is not dinosaur? Your cooking details are perfect and I am sure it will be a success. I wish I was nearer for an invite – I love lamb. My piece of beef filet for this evening is now looking like something from Llilliput. Have great day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marilyn Armstrong December 24, 2016 / 10:48 am

      I have cooked and enjoyed many legs of lamb, but this is easily twice the size of any of them. I am NOT sure it isn’t a dinosaur … or moose! I’m still not sure exactly how I’m going to cook it. With or without cooking bag? In the bag is a lot neater. Won’t make a mess of my oven which only just got really clean.

      When it’s just Gar and me, we get those little fillets and they are more than enough for us. This is overkill, but we didn’t buy it. It was a gift from Owen’s boss to his employees. Did everyone have to get a hacksaw to make it fit in a pan and oven? I hope everyone wants leftovers!! This is my pause before I start serious kitchen duty. I’m tired and the day just started (but I already ground up the rosemary, sage, thyme, and parsley in the food processor. First time I’ve used it since last Christmas 🙂


  4. judyt54 December 24, 2016 / 10:38 am

    lol the gift that keeps on giving and giving and giving…I had someone give me a coffee bean grinder years ago that ended up in a string of quests not unlike yours, and reminds me now of the goofy quests that Worlds of Warcraft sends a player on…enjoy your lamb, right down to the moment when the dogs get The Bones (maybe the Sawzall can come in handy at that point, too)
    Merry Christmas to both of you and hug the dogs (if they will allow it) for me, too

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marilyn Armstrong December 24, 2016 / 10:55 am

      NO ONE is leaving this house without leftovers today. I don’t know about the bone. I think it’s the size Samson used to bring down the temple and I doubt Owen is bringing the Sawzall to dinner. But assuming that bone will fit in a soup pot, destiny awaits!

      Merry Christmas to you and yours too. It’s pouring down here. I suppose that’s better than sleet of snow!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Garry Armstrong December 24, 2016 / 10:55 am

    Yowzah! What a piece of meat!! What a lovely surprise!! It’s my co-favorite dinner. And, I don’t think Sashimi is appropriate for Christmas Eve unless you live in Cleveland and Darren McGavin is your Dad.
    Marilyn just suggested we name the name the gynormous leg of lamb.

    How about “Godzilla”…..

    Liked by 2 people

    • Marilyn Armstrong December 24, 2016 / 11:48 am

      Aww. You remember Sherri Lewis! I don’t think I could EAT Lambchop. I would cry into my mint jelly.

      Liked by 2 people

      • judyt54 December 24, 2016 / 2:15 pm

        Oh I know what you mean. That fuzzy white kiss-me face…


        • Marilyn Armstrong December 24, 2016 / 2:57 pm

          I didn’t think anyone remembered the Sherri Lewis show. That WAS long ago. I think I was maybe 6 or 7?

          Liked by 1 person

    • Garry Armstrong December 25, 2016 / 1:07 pm

      Judy, Lambchop was tender and delicious, highlight of our lovely family Christmas Eve dinner.


  6. Ben December 24, 2016 / 1:20 pm

    Better you than me my friends…, but great picture of your dilemma,,, 🙂


    • Marilyn Armstrong December 24, 2016 / 3:00 pm

      Garry and I wrangled it into the pan. After cutting off a big chunk, we only had less than half an inch clearance. It’s in an oven bag swathed in olive oil, garlic,fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, and parsley. With a meat thermometer and I don’t even know if you’re supposed to put a meat thermometer inside an oven bag, but it’s the only way I know if it’s done. So much for my easy holiday! Yikes, it’s the lamb leg that ate Christmas.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ben December 24, 2016 / 4:25 pm

        All I can say is YUM and, hopefully you will eat the Lam’s Leg.., not the other way around.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Marilyn Armstrong December 24, 2016 / 10:34 pm

          We came. We saw. We ate. We sit and watch Netflix. And we have to do another dinner tomorrow. My poor stomach will demand reparations.


        • Garry Armstrong December 25, 2016 / 1:08 pm

          Ben, it was DEE-liss-shous!!


  7. swo8 December 24, 2016 / 1:23 pm

    That is huge! Boy we haven’t had lamb for a long time. Do you put some rosemary with it? Love the mint jelly. Yummmmm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marilyn Armstrong December 24, 2016 / 3:02 pm

      It is smothered in fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley and garlic. I give thanks to owning a food processor or I’d never have been able to get those spices chopped enough to use. Now, in the oven bag and cooking and hoping the bag doesn’t explode … or for that matter, the meat thermometer doesn’t have an unfortunate event. I wanted a simple holiday. This better be really delicious!

      Liked by 2 people

      • swo8 December 24, 2016 / 3:09 pm

        It sounds really good. You might want to prick a few tiny holes in the bag so it doesn’t burst. My mouth is watering.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Marilyn Armstrong December 24, 2016 / 3:13 pm

          According to the box, six one half inch slits. It smells really great here. Actually, every since I chopped up the fresh herbs last night, it has been on olfactory celebration.

          Liked by 1 person

          • swo8 December 24, 2016 / 3:16 pm

            Oh love that smell……part of the season.


  8. Martha Kennedy December 24, 2016 / 3:22 pm

    Great story! Sawzalls are awesome tools. Even for cutting VW bugs into pieces. Have a lovely dinner!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marilyn Armstrong December 24, 2016 / 10:31 pm

      I was thinking it that we all need miniature, rechargeable sawzalls. We could use them instead of knives at the dinner table. Great for cutting up leftover for you know who 🙂 I have a little jigsaw that tucks in my bag 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Martha Kennedy December 24, 2016 / 10:38 pm

        Aren’t they kind of like those old school electric carving knives only exponentially more powerful?


        • Marilyn Armstrong December 24, 2016 / 11:10 pm

          And small enough to use with one hand … and at the table. Sawzall! For your every dining need!

          Liked by 1 person

  9. cordeliasmom2012 December 24, 2016 / 9:56 pm

    Good thing you were able to cut it. I can’t imagine trying to get that into a regular oven. Hope you enjoy eating it as much as I enjoyed reading the story about it.


    • Marilyn Armstrong December 24, 2016 / 10:28 pm

      It just barely fit.

      Oh, we certainly ate. And we’re supposed to do it again tomorrow. We have really el-primo leftovers and the bone left from the roast was big enough to be weaponized!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. evilsquirrel13 December 25, 2016 / 4:12 am

    Sounds like this would have been one of the few practical uses for the amazing, powerful, it cuts through anything and stays sharp as a tack, too good to be true Ginsu knife. I guess you didn’t take them up on their unbelievable offer back then and get all that “but wait, there’s more!” bonus stuff…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marilyn Armstrong December 25, 2016 / 4:47 am

      I’d like to have seen THAT event! I felt lucky that Owen’s big Sawzall got through it. I had begun to fear the worst!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Garry Armstrong December 25, 2016 / 1:10 pm

        Owen’s big Sawzall?? Sounds kinky to me.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. nancy merrill December 27, 2016 / 1:08 am

    I love lamb, though we usually have it around Easter and Passover. Great story. Thanks for joining the challenge!


    • Marilyn Armstrong December 27, 2016 / 1:21 am

      It was fun. I know it was a bit more text than usual, but these pictures came with a story 🙂 And meanwhile, next year is here. How did that happen?


      • nancy merrill December 27, 2016 / 1:54 am

        Time moves so much quicker now than when I was a child. I’m still one of those people who thinks 1990s when someone says “Ten years ago…”


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