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Welsh Food Dishes... Cawl National Dish of Wales. (Weles) with Ingredients
Delicious Welsh Stew
Cawl for a Hearty, Hot Meal
Wales is not renowned for its wonderful weather, but it is known for its hearty cuisine, so that when you are sitting down to a bowl of steaming hot soup the rain is of no consequence. Welsh people are thrifty and make use of ingredients in season. Vegetables grow well in Wales ; carrots, leeks, onions, cabbage and potatoes are plentiful. A very ancient and, some would say, old fashioned dish is Cawl (pronounced to rhyme with "howl") The name dates back to the Midddle Ages and was supposed to derive from the Latin for Cabbage or cabbage stalk. It was originally a stew boiled up in a large cauldron (this word is probably from the same root) comprising meat as available and seasonal vegetables. It hasn't changed much these days and is still very much enjoyed on a daily basis. Sometimes the soup is decanted from the meat and vegetables and served as a starter and the rest served up as a main meal with a side of fresh bread and salty Welsh butter. Simple yet satisfying.
I worked in a large oil refinery at Skewen. I lived in nearby Porthcawl ( pronounced Porthcall) which was just a small fishing village in Glamorganshire, South Wales. It was named after the bowl shaped harbor reminiscent of the traditional Cawl pot. It is today a thriving resort offering a fun fair, rock pools and bracing sea breezes. Cafes and restaurants usually sport a very good Cawl on the menu
Cawl ingredients vary according to season but invariably contain leeks, cheaper parts of Welsh Lamb and often pieces of Bacon. In our house we had Cawl at least once a week and it would probably stretch for two days. Normally ours was made from breast of lamb and whatever vegetables were in the garden. An important point in the preparation is that the lamb must be prepared the pevious day by boiling in enough water to cover for about an hour and then leaving it to get cold overnight when the hard fat is easily removed. The meat is then removed from the bones and chopped into bite sized pieces.
The Ingredients for Cawl
Approx.8 oz of prepared lamb ... Beef stewing cut may be substituted.
2 medium onions, chopped
3 large carrots. cut into rings.......small rutabaga cut into chunks
bacon pieces if available
Bunch of Parsely .....Salt and Pepper to taste
Head of Cabbage ........ tspn butter or oil to browningredients
If using lamb, start the previous day as already described. Cool overnight and remove fat. Reserve liquid.
In a large skillet. heat the oil or butter to sizzling point and add the diced beef or lamb, brown and place in stew pot , add onions to skillet fry a little then add the diced vegetables. Brown and place in stew pot with the meat. Add the reserved lamb stock (if used) or water to cover. Add a stock cube if liked. Clean and trim head of cabbage, cut into chunks. Reserve to add after about one hour into cooking time with the tied bunch of parsley.
Place covered stew pot into the oven at 350 F for about two and a half hours, don't forget to add the cabbage later! Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper Remove the parsley. The Cawl tastes better the next day so be sure to make enough for two days. In our house we always had suet dumplings bubbling on top, but that is another story.
Serve with crusty bread and good salty Welsh butter and cheese for a hearty dinner. Some people like to srain off the broth and serve it separately to start. We have noticed that it is more frequently seen on pub menus these days. probably part of the think local movement. Enjoy!