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I am a food lover and in many extents am a traditional dish person rather than a chips and scampi person. Many times I have sat in a pub to eat food and ordered something that is years old by method. As a little girl I've grown up eating foods that generations have passed on the know-how and would much rather eat a hearty made-from-scratch pie or a welcoming soup and baked bread than a restaurants breaded cod and peas!
This dish, as with most stews, was originally a poor person's meal feast, and all the left over bits of vegetables and scraps of meat would be put into a pot and brewed. (Originally over a fire) A lot of families will add bacon and cabbage to their Cawl but this becomes known more as a Broth.
My grandfather worked at a colliery and would take a flask of Cawl down the dark with him. The dish is full of goodness from vegetables and the meat keeps you feeling full for a long time. This dish is ideal for a cold evening and can even be put into a blender for gummy babies to enjoy! Excellent if you're trying to introduce mixed vegetables to a little one as there's a variety of colours and smells that will stimulate all senses.
*There are many recipes available on-line for Cawl, all with some variations but here is my recipe, the way I have learned since I was little, for a traditional Welsh stew, with Lamb and Leek.
A large stewing saucepan or large "Pyrex" dish that can be heated on a stove. (Preferably with a lid but it's not essential) A ladle. A scooper with holes. A large spoon to stir. Gas or electric hob (or Arga) - doesn't matter! A meat chopping board. A vegetable chopping board. Sharp knives. A smaller pot for boiling potatoes.
1 small Swede. 2 or 3 decent sized Carrots. 1 small Parsnip. 1 medium Onion. 3 large Leeks. (or several Baby Leeks- the taste being sweeter) 1 lamb Stock Cube - "Knorr" is fine. Potatoes - I use "White" as they are versatile. Water. Small sprig of mint. Fresh parsley. A tiny sprinkle of Rosemary. A tiny sprinkle of salt. Thickening granules (or a tiny bit of flour). A small spoon of oil to grease the pan - Do Not use Lard or "Flora spray" as this produces a mass of scum and ruins the stew.
Your choice of Lamb Neck Fillet or Lamb Steaks. The steaks are rich and often expensive, but the neck is better for this dish as there is a little bit of fat which this stew needs to brew better.
A small lump of choice cheese and a crusty rustic roll for garnish.
10 minutes to brown the Lamb. 5 minutes to season the lamb with a stock cube. 15 minutes with a full pot to check on meat and stir. 45 minutes for pot to brew. 10 minutes for potatoes to boil. 10 minutes for the potates added to the stew. 10 minutes for final flavours to mix and finish off.
Total time = 105 minutes (or close to an hour and a half) Cooking time. *The preparation of the meat will only take 5 minutes prior and any vegetable preparation can be done whilst the Cawl is brewing.
#Step 1 - The beginning needs attention to watch for any burning.
Dice and cube the meat keeping some fat on. Put a small bit of oil into the pot and put on low heat. Add the meat to the pan. If the meat is cooking too fast, add more oil (the meat should not stick to the pan.) While waiting for the meat to cook, chop all the vegetables. (If you don't like Parsnips, leave it whole and remove it later. It does add a rather rich taste to the stew but some don't like to eat the actual vegetable.) Skin the potatoes but only cut them in half if they are large. These are best whole in the stew as the smaller they are cut, the more bits flake off and mess the stew. Check the meat has browned slightly and after 10 minutes or so it should be releasing some scum so remove with a scooper. *Try not to over cook the Lamb as it will cook further throughout the brew. When you are happy with the colour of the meat add the stock cube, just a little water to cover the meat and stir. Leave brew on low heat for about 5minutes.
#Step 2 - You can leave it to itself.
Remove any last scum and put all the vegetables (but not potatoes) into the pot. Fill up with more water and leave simmer on gentle heat for about quarter of an hour. Stir around to make sure the Lamb has not stuck to the bottom. Leave simmer for a further 3 quarters of an hour.
#Step 3 - Nearly there.
Stir around and check the vegetables are softening. Put the potatoes in a small pot and bring to boil. Sprinkle a tiny pinch of salt. (Should be around 10 minutes) When the potatoes are not quite done but starting to soften, add to the Cawl and leave everything simmer for 10 minutes.
#Step 4 - finishing off.
Finely chop the herbs (or if you're using the ready cut and dried variety get ready to use straight). Now all the vegetable should be soft so finally add all the herbs, and check the consistency of the stew. If it is runny add a tea spoon of thickening granules or a tiny amount of flour. Mix well with a large spoon. Leave for a further 10 minutes.
Serve hot with a chunky rustic roll and a small piece of cheese on a plate. You can either add the cheese onto the bowl of Cawl, or put it on the bread and dip in.
*The Cawl is fine to reheat later that night and will keep for the next day but will not keep for longer than a short time the next day (for example, if you made the Cawl at 6pm one night, it's not really nice to reheat it the same time the next night. It's nicer before 24 hours)
I hope this has helped, and made a few people hungry! "Iechyd Dda!" ("Good health/ cheers")
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