Poached Leg of Lamb with Onion Sauce and Samphire


  • 2 kg (generous 4 lb) whole leg of lamb
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 onions, peeled and stuck with half a dozen cloves
  • parsley stalks
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small turnip, peeled and sliced
  • 1 leek, washed and sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, trimmed and sliced
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 500 g (1 lb) samphire, trimmed, picked over and thoroughly rinsed
  • 2 slices bread, crusts removed
  • double cream – optional


Trim and tie the leg of lamb to hold its shape. Fill a large saucepan or fish kettle with enough water to cover the lamb. Gauge how much water first, by putting the leg in, pouring in enough water to cover it, then removing the leg. Put in the herbs, vegetables and lightly add salt and pepper, but not yet the lamb. Bring to the boil, put in the lamb, and when the water comes back to the boil, turn down the heat as low as possible and poach for 15 to 18 minutes per 500 g (1 lb. Remove the lamb from the pot, and put it to rest in a warm place for about 15 minutes before carving.

While the meat is resting, prepare the accompaniments. To make the sauce, dip the bread in the cooking liquid, then squeeze it out. Put in a blender or food processor with the now soft onions, having removed all but a couple of cloves. Blend until smooth, adding cooking juices or double cream until you have the consistency you prefer. Sieve, season to taste, reheat and keep it warm.

Strain the cooking liquid into a clean saucepan and bring it to the boil. Drop in the samphire, blanch for 30 seconds, then strain and serve with the lamb and onion sauce.