Poached Leg of Lamb


  • 4 lb / 1.80 kg leg of lamb
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 onion, peeled and studded with 6 cloves
  • parsley stalks
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small turnip, peeled and sliced
  • 1 leek, trimmed, sliced and washed
  • 1 celery stalk
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


Trim any fat from the leg of lamb and tie it with string to hold it in shape. Fill a large saucepan with water, and add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to the boil, and put in the leg of lamb. When the water comes back to the boil, turn the heat down to the lowest possible simmer, and poach for 1 hour (15 minutes per 1 lb / 455 g). Remove the lamb from the pan, and put it to rest in a warm place for 10–15 minutes before carving.

There are any number of ways of embellishing this simple dish with sauces and garnishes. One I like very much is caper sauce, which can be made as an old-fashioned roux of flour and butter moistened with the lamb juices and a little thin cream into which you stir 2–3 tablespoons capers.

Laver sauce is a traditional accompaniment to lamb in Wales, its rich iodine flavour and dark silky texture making a wonderful contrast with the meat. Laver (an edible seaweed) is usually sold ready-cooked. To make a simple sauce, heat about 8 oz / 230 g laver with a knob or two of butter and 1 pt / 570 ml lamb stock and season to taste.

Onion sauce also goes well with lamb, whether roasted or poached. To make it, sweat a large chopped onion in butter until translucent, and then stir in a few cloves and allspice berries. Sprinkle on a tablespoon of flour and gradually stir in ½ pt / 280 ml milk until you have a smooth sauce. Cook until the onions are soft, and sieve or blend into a purée, depending on whether you like a smooth or chunky sauce. Season to taste.