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”

    1. 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!


  1. 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

    1. 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 🙂


  2. 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

    1. 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

  3. 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

    1. 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

    1. 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

  4. 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

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