This recipe comes at the
top of the list because it is the National dish of Wales! As the Scots eat
their Haggis at their Burns Supper celebrations - so too the Welsh
traditionally tuck into Cawl during St. David's day supper gatherings on the
1st of March each year.
can vary slightly from area to area but the basic dish remains the same. The
recipe shown below is a popular one in Ceredigion.
For a family of 3 - 4
You should use proportionally
less ingredients for fewer people – or if you want your cawl to last a week
then use the following guideline for 1 small person!
A breast of lamb. If it’s
early season (Springtime) you may need two because they’ll be smaller.
You can also use a neck of lamb – some prefer a breast because of the
awkward small bones in a neck – they both taste beautiful
(FACT - Welsh Mountain
Lamb is the sweetest in the world)! You can also
substitute lamb for stewing (shin) beef, chicken or rabbit. Tip: when using anything other
than lamb there's no
need to cook meat the previous evening - to cope with the excess fat.
When choosing your lamb breast pick one that isn’t too fatty with nice
light coloured meat.
3 - 4 medium sized carrots
2 - 3 parsnips
½ a small swede – don’t
overdo the swede because if you’re not careful the flavour can sometimes
over-power the cawl, especially if you use too much of it. Entirely up
to you - it’s a matter of choice not a rule!
4 – 5 medium sized potatoes
1 large leek
or equivalent smaller ones. Tip: don’t discard
the green leaves they give both flavour and colour to your cawl.
1 small cabbage – the dark
green savoy type are the best but any cabbage will do. Tip: don’t
overload your cawl with cabbage, it also can be an over-powering flavour
that can drown out the more subtle mild flavours of other veg. But it is
a key ingredient.
Any other root vegetable
that you can think of that’s available on the allotment!
Wash the breast of lamb in
cold water, then cut it into chunks (usually a “chunk” is about 2 ribs
wide. Cut again into rough squares - a cleaver is a handy instrument
here – or ask your friendly butcher to do the job for you. Tip: don’t
cut the breast into very small pieces as they won’t hold their shape as
well when cooked
Put the pieces into a large
pan (a pressure cooker – with the lid on, but without the release valve
Cover the meat with salted
water, bring to the boil and then simmer until it’s tender and falling
off the bone.
Turn the heat off, remove
the meat and put it in a separate dish in the fridge until the next day.
Leave the stock covered - to cool overnight in the pan.
Next day remove the fat
from the top of the now cooled stock and throw it away (don’t want pains
in the chest in later life!). Bring the meat back out of the fridge &
remove all the bones & excess fat from it. Put the prepared meat to one
side for later use. Throw the excess fat & bones to your dog – if you
Clean & prepare the vegetables and add to the meat
stock – except for the leek. Tip: cut the potatoes into quarters, but don’t
cut them too small or they’ll over thicken the cawl (cawl is a traditional
‘thin’ stock dish as opposed to a thick stew).
Cook slowly and add 2 lamb
stock cubes & 1 vegetable stock cube.
When the vegetables are
nearly cooked add the meat back in and also add the leek – the last
veg - as it gets spoilt if over cooked. Simmer for another hour or so.
Serve with bread, & cheese
on cold winter days.
Final Tip: Cawl is great re-heated the next day, as the flavours are
enhanced when it’s re-heated. It also gets thicker and thicker so may need
thinning (a cup of hot water + a lamb stock cube works well).