Spoon carve-able Shoulder of Lamb……. and stealing boats

Lamb Shoulder
Slow cooked Shoulder of Lamb ©Rory Kelly

When you attempt to steal a boat there are two fundamentals that are critical to success – number one – make sure you have a professional crook with you and number two –  make sure you’re sober.

Neil wasn’t a professional crook and neither of us were sober.

“Steal a boat”


“Steal a boat”

“Fuck right off”

“That’s the deal boyo steal a boat or pack your knives”

I looked at the 2 playing cards that had fallen to the table in front of us…..then I slowly raised my eyes to look at my adversary…. Neil ‘Blondie’ Stokes….a yeti of a bloke with a missing tooth. Our 6 associates exploded in a chorus of hoots, grunts and exasperated gasps. Hairy hands and heavy fists mauled and shook my shoulders in a flurry of testosterone fueled celebration – this was like something from Lord of the Flies!! The die had been cast, my punishment, should it be doled out was written on the wall so to speak.

This was ‘Court’ and it was being held in the Anchor, a dive bar across the street from the Kitchen. The Anchor Bar was were were hung out after work, drank ‘Snake Bite’ and occasional gambled. The local chefs would gather once a week after service for ‘lock-ins’ and ‘Poker’ still in Whites and stinking of sweat and garlic –  ‘Snake-Bite’ a regrettable mix of lager and cheap cider was the only accepted drink during these gatherings and the air in the back room overlooking the bay hung thick with cigarette smoke.

The challenge in front of me was to steal a boat – this was my forfeit for burning the lamb that was supposed to be the  Sunday Roast  the previous week….

The reason for this ‘Court’ and the playing cards was because  I claimed ‘1st offence’ a clause that allowed me (and any subsequent new comer) one monumental fuck up without fear of termination or GBH. This clause only allowed for a down-grade of punishment though…a downgrade to peer punishment but it was a chance to wriggle free by playing ‘Bongo’ with ‘Blondie Stokes Head Bar man and casual sociopath at the Kitchen.

Take one card each, lick it and stick it to your forehead – then out bravado your opponent with an insane forfeits ie Stealing Boats. If I won, by drawing a higher card I walked away from all admonishment and all would be forgiven if I lost well…I would be heading for the marina……….


How Slow cooked Lamb Shoulder and grand theft ‘Aqua'(?) are connected is, well a little bit of a stretch but the following recipe was what put me into the very weird situation I found myself in at the Anchor bar 20 years ago..

Lamb Shoulder


♠ Fall apart Shoulder of Lamb ♣

Prep time: 2 mins ♦  Cook Time: 4 hours ♦ Total time 4 hours 2 mins ♦ Serves 4



2 full lamb shoulder split into two

6-8 cloves garlic

1 large white onion

Fresh Rosemary

Rapeseed Oil

2 Anchovie fillets

Salt flakes and cracked black pepper


Step 1:

Lightly oil the lamb with rapeseed then season well with salt and pepper

Step 2:

Roughly chop the onion and sling into a roasting tray with the garlic and fresh rosemary

Step 3:

Chop the anchovie up a little and scatter in with garlic, rosemary and onion then add the lamb shoulder

Step 4:

Cover the roasting tray with a double layer of tin-foil tightly – this is moocho importante as the lamb has gotta steam roast – any gaps and the lamb will slowly dry out

Step 5:

Slow roast at 140c for 4 hours




7 thoughts on “Spoon carve-able Shoulder of Lamb……. and stealing boats

      1. I’ve readi it 3 times at this stage along with Bourdains other stuff – a legend os a bloke! I ate in Les Halles in Manhatten when he was there – friggin scary good!!

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