Lemon sauce for boiled fowl


  • 1 lemon, with thin skin, if possible
  • 400ml milk
  • 100g softened butter
  • 2 heaped teaspoons flour
  • ground white pepper
  • pinch ground nutmeg


This recipe is inspired by Mrs Isabella Beeton's 'Lemon sauce for boiled fowl', which published as two 'receipts': one for the foundation 'melted butter' sauce of flour, butter and milk, and the other adding the lemon. Upon testing Mrs Beeton's version I wondered if perhaps there was a step or a cooking time reference missing, as the lemon peel had little time to cook and was hard. This seemed to upset the delicate texture of the poached chicken, so I've modified the instructions accordingly, and brought them into one single recipe.

Unlike a French roux-style white sauce, this one is buttery-rich – in contrast to the simplicity and uncomplicated nature of 'boiled' fowl.


Peel the skin from the lemon in long strips. Remove the pith with a paring knife and discard. Set the skin aside. Slice the skinned fruit thinly, remove and discard any excess pith and seeds, then chop the flesh finely and set aside.

Warm the milk and lemon peel in a saucepan over low heat, simmering very gently for 10–15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to steep for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the butter and flour smoothly together on a small plate. Put the butter mixture into a small saucepan, then strain the lemon-infused milk into the pan, adding three pinches of salt, the pepper and the nutmeg, if using. Place over medium heat and stir constantly in one direction (eg, clockwise) with a wire whisk until the butter is incorporated and the sauce is smooth. Lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes, then check the seasoning. Add the chopped lemon and simmer for just a few minutes. Pour over the boiled chicken or serve separately in a sauce boat.

This recipe appeared in the post The old boiler on October 09, 2014.

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