St Patrick’s Day: Poached leg of mutton with caper sauce and colcannon


1 leg (around 2½ kg) of mutton
300ml chicken stock (use low-salt bouillon if necessary)
water – enough to cover mutton in the pot
2 bay leaves
2 each of onions, carrots and leeks, chopped roughly (used for flavouring the stock; discard after cooking)

For the colcannon:
10 large Rooster potatoes
1 large head of Savoy cabbage
100g butter
300ml milk

For the caper sauce:
50g butter
50g plain flour
300ml milk
a dash of cream
parsley and capers (to taste), roughly chopped

1 tsp of English mustard or anchovy paste

Put the mutton, stock, bay leaves, onions, carrots and leeks into a large pot. Top up with water to ensure that liquid covers the mutton. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer gently for 1½ hours.

While the mutton is cooking, peel the potatoes, then shred the cabbage into large pieces and leave steeping in cold water until required.

About half an hour before the mutton is cooked, put the potatoes in to a steamer (it usually takes around 25-30 minutes to cook the potatoes, depending on their size). Mash the potatoes in their pot and mix in the butter and as much of the heated milk as needed, then leave to stand in the pot.

Remove the mutton from the pot when cooked and cook the cabbage for three minutes (on the hob) in the mutton stock.

Add the cabbage to the potatoes and fold through. Keep warm.

Melt the butter over a medium heat, then add the flour to make a classic roux base.

Stirring continuously, add the heated milk and an equal measure of stock from the mutton pot.

When it bubbles, add good-quality, roughly chopped capers and chopped parsley.

Add a drop of cream (and 1 tsp of mustard or anchovy paste if using), and season to taste. Remove from heat and keep warm.

To serve, slice the mutton, serve with colcannon and caper sauce and garnish with fresh parsley.

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