Wednesday, 29 July 2009



The combination of being off work with a cold (my first sick leave episode for a very long time, I'm smug to say) and the decidedly un-summery weather has made me crave warming comfort food today, rather than cold salad. Just as well that there was a pot of cawl in the freezer, and plenty of bread and cheese to fill me up.

Cawl is simple Welsh food: essentially, it's just boiled lamb and root vegetables, but it has magic restorative powers akin to Jewish chicken soup. Like all traditional recipes, there are hundreds of variations on how to make it; I'm told that this is a pretty authentic version.

Serves 4-6 depending on greed hunger

  • 1 half shoulder of Welsh lamb
  • 2 leeks
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 small swede
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1-2 parsnips
  • 3-4 white potatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Start the night before you want to eat the cawl.
Put the lamb into a large pan, and cover it with cold water. Bring it to the boil, skim off any scum that rises, and simmer gently for 1-2 hours until the lamb is very tender.
Turn off the heat and leave the meat to cool in the broth.

The next day, skim off any fat that has set on top of the broth. Remove the meat, pull it from the bones and break it into spoon-sized chunks. Keep it to one side.

Wash and peel the vegetables. Slice the carrots, leeks, onion and parsnip(s); cut the swede into 1-2 cm dice, and the potatoes into 2-3 cm chunks. You don't need to keep them neat.

Bring the broth to the boil and add the swede, carrot, onion and parsnip. Simmer for 15 minutes then add the potatoes and leeks; simmer for a further 10 minutes before adding the lamb. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender, then season. If necessary, you can add a bit more water during the cooking process - you're after a soupy stew consistency.

Serve with fresh bread and strong Cheddar cheese.

Posted by em at 17:30 | Comments will be back later in the year. Please email me instead!