Leg of mutton with caper sauce

Serves 4-6
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What's happened to good old mutton? Many people have never had the chance to try it, as it has been elbowed out of the way by prime cuts of meat with a relatively short cooking time. Yet boiled or braised it beats lamb for flavour. You'll have to order it from a butcher or mail-order meat supplier such as Heal Farm in Devon (01769 574341, www.healfarm.co.uk).

1 boned and rolled leg of mutton, weighing about 1kg
2 onions, peeled and halved
1 leek, trimmed, halved and washed
A few sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
10 black peppercorns
Equal parts water and chicken stock (a good-quality chicken stock cube will do) ­ enough to cover ingredients
1 teaspoon salt
for the caper sauce
25g butter
25g flour
100ml double cream
100g capers, rinsed in cold water
1tbsp choppe

Put the mutton into a large enough saucepan with the onion, leek, thyme, bay leaf and peppercorns. Cover with the stock and water and add the salt. Bring to the boil, skim off any scum from the surface and simmer for 11/2-2 hours. Remove 500ml of the stock and leave the lamb, covered with a lid, until required.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan, add the flour and stir well. Gradually add the stock, stirring well to prevent any lumps forming. Bring to the boil, remove the cooked onions from the lamb cooking liquid and add to the sauce. Simmer for 30 minutes over a low heat, then blend the sauce until smooth in a liquidiser and strain through a fine-meshed sieve. Add the double cream and continue simmering until the sauce has thickened to a coating consistency. Add the capers and parsley, and season with salt if necessary.

Lift the lamb from the cooking liquor and place on a cutting board. Remove any string and cut the lamb into 5mm-1cm-thick slices. Coat with the caper sauce.

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