Buying meat by the side from the Deck Family Farm means I get odd (and really good) pieces. Recently I found a lovely pack of lamb hocks and decided to boil them down for a stew. It’s been spring here in Oregon, which means erratically sunny and rainy. It might be gorgeous in the morning and I dream of spring grilling…and by the time I need to start dinner it’s definitely stew weather. We have a saying here: Don’t like the spring weather? Wait five minutes or drive five miles. Once I saw it raining out one window facing the back of hour house and it was sunny out the side window around the corner.
But I digress. Back to the lamb hocks. And nettles. We love eating nettles and I will put them in anything. They are particularly amazing in this stew.
Spring Lamb Stew
1 pack of lamb hocks *(recipe alterations to use a pound of lamb stew meat are at the end of the recipe)
1 tbl. cooking oil (tallow, coconut oil, lard…)
4-5 cups water
2 stalks celery
1 big bunch of fresh nettles
1/2 cup pesto
Salt & pepper to taste
Coarsely chop the onions and saute them in a little of your favorite cooking oil. I used tallow. Add the hocks and the water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for a while. I let mine for for an hour or so. Remove the hocks and let them cool. Chop the potatoes, carrots, and celery into stew-sized pieces. Add them to the broth and continue simmering.
As soon as the hocks have cooled to a touchable temperature, start pulling the meat off them and tossing it in the soup pot. I also scraped the marrow out of the bones; a step which made this soup wonderfully nutritious. As soon as all the meat is in the soup, don some gardening gloves and chop your nettles up. Always wear gloves when chopping nettles – you do not want a nettle sting under the fingernail, I promise. Toss the nettles in the soup and let them wilt. Stir in the pesto, adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with crusty bread.
*If you don’t have lamb hocks, I am sorry. You can use beef broth and a pound of lamb stew chunks instead. After you have cooked down the lamb, leave it in the pot to continue stewing while you add the vegetables.
Nettles are one of our favorite spring foods. What early foods do you eat to know that spring is here?