To Dress a Leg of Mutton à la Royale

This recipe (very slightly modified) comes from Mrs Glasse, but there are earlier references to what is clearly the same excellent dish, very good for a large dinner party; the mutton and beef cooked and eaten together are unusual and outstanding. A large fish kettle or an iron or steel casserole which can go on top of the stove is required.


  • 3–4 lb. (1½-2 k.) leg of mutton (or large leg of lamb)
  • 2 lb. (1 k.) piece of either rump of beef, tied to roast, or leg of veal, tied to roast
  • 2 bouquets garnis or sprigs of thyme, parsley, marjoram and a very little sage
  • a little flour
  • 1 large onion stuck with 12 cloves
  • 3 blades of mace
  • 12 peppercorns
  • ¼ lb. (120 g.) butter
  • salt

For the Garnish and Gravy

  • 3 veal or 6 lamb’s kidneys
  • ¾ lb. (360 g.) mushrooms
  • ¼ pint red wine ( dl.)
  • 4 oz. (120 g.) plain flour
  • asparagus – about 18 heads (may be frozen or canned)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • seasoning
  • a little lemon juice


Have the mutton skinned, the fat trimmed off, and the shank bone cut off by the butcher.

Flour the mutton and brown it all over in butter in a large frying pan; do the same with the floured beef or veal. Put both into the fish kettle or casserole, add the onion, herbs and spices and 2 teaspoons salt. Pour in water to cover (at least quarts but not more than 3 (3 l.)). Bring gently to the boil, then lower heat and allow to simmer very gently for 2 hours. The kettle or casserole must be closely covered.

Prepare the kidneys, and half an hour before the mutton should be ready, fry them lightly in butter. Put in a separate 3 or 4 pint casserole. Sauté the mushrooms and put with the kidneys, and then add the wine. Open the meat kettle and take out about a pint of stock and add to kidneys and mushrooms. Cover meat again and gently stew kidneys and mushrooms for 10 minutes. Meanwhile cook or heat the asparagus separately and keep hot by adding a lump of butter, wrapping in foil and putting in the oven or warming drawer.

To thicken the gravy of the kidneys and mushrooms, mix ¼ lb. plain flour with ¼ pint cold water and pour most of the boiling gravy on to it. Stir well. Return it all to the casserole, stirring all the time. It will be almost solid. From the mutton and beef ladle more liquid, taking as little fat as possible, and stir into the mushrooms and kidneys until the sauce is slightly thicker than double cream: there should be about 1½-2 pints of it. Taste and season highly, adding lemon juice if you think it should be a little sharper. It should be dark and rich.

Lift the mutton and keep hot.

Carve the beef quickly into neat, thick slices. Arrange these round the edges of a very large serving dish. Pour the sauce with mushrooms and kidneys over; set the leg of mutton in the centre, sprinkle with parsley and capers, and lay the asparagus spears in twos round the dish.

This looks and tastes superb but is difficult to prepare and serve singlehanded. I do it like this:

I cook both joints and make the thickened casserole of kidneys and mushrooms the day before I want the dish; I finish the sauce and carve both joints, packing the neat slices into two pie dishes, keeping mutton and beef separate. They must be carved hot. I cover the meat in the pie dishes with the stock not used in the sauce, and closely cover with foil.

Before the dinner I cook the asparagus and allow the dishes of meat 30 minutes in an oven preheated to 250° F., gas mark ½-1, and heat the sauce with mushrooms and kidneys to boiling point, and allow just to simmer till wanted.

I arrange the slices of mutton in the centre of a very large flat dish (warmed) and the beef round it, sprinkle the mutton slices with parsley and capers, and pour the kidneys etc. in their sauce over the beef only; some of the sauce should spread under the mutton slices in the centre of the dish. The asparagus heads are arranged on the mushrooms, etc. in groups round the dish.

This takes about 5 minutes: the dishes can be brought straight to table or put back in the oven for a very few minutes.

The dish requires no vegetables but the asparagus and mushrooms. It wants large crusts of French bread, which should really be dipped in the gravy. Otherwise, potatoes in their jackets, without butter, are best.