During this wintry weather our bodies need looking after with plenty of nutritional sustenance to help keep us warm.
In Wales the traditional broth is Cawl, an ‘all in one’ stew that it deeply rooted in Welsh heritage and like any recipe that holds such esteem it has various forms & regional variations that are passionately disputed.
In the south (where I live) the recipe uses lamb, but I have seen it made with a bacon joint and also beef brisket. The basic principles are the same whatever meat you use and our ancestors would of used whatever they had in days gone by.
I have always used lamb and the best value cut for the job I’ve found is shoulder or even shoulder shanks which are easier to handle. For me although I love meat, it is all about the veg. Good quality locally produced root vegetables that have benefitted from the frosty weather sing out loudly in this dish and are very much on a level playing field with the lamb.
This dish is all about the “season” there isn’t really any lamb to be had at this time of year what we have is “hogget” lamb that has spent two seasons on the mountain or pasture which is immensely flavoursome and perfect for this dish.
Mutton would be perfect if you can get it.
1.2 kg of lamb shoulder shanks or a piece of lamb shoulder bone in cut into 3 manageable pieces.
2 onions diced
4 large carrots diced
1 swede diced
2 parsnips diced
2 leeks diced
3 celery sticks diced
2 large potatoes diced
2 bay leaves (aromats)
2 sprigs of Thyme
Fresh parsley to finish (small fistfull)
Feeds 4-6 comfortably
1. Place the lamb into a large pan/stockpot, cover with cold water bring to the boil, skim & reduce to a simmer.
2. In a separate pan heat a little oil & sweat the vegetables (except the potatoes) with the herbs & aromats gently without colour, continue to cook without colour for 8-10 mins.
3. Add the cooked vegetables to the stockpot with the lamb cook on a low simmer for at least 1 hour then add the potatoes & cook until they’re tender approx a further 40 mins.
4. Remove the lamb carefully with tongs, the meat should be falling away from the bone, pull of the meat, chop some of the larger pieces & return the meat to the broth, taste & season liberally with salt, fresh ground black pepper & good sprinkle of white pepper. Finish with some fresh chopped parsley.
Traditionally Cawl is served with fresh baked bread & wedge of farmhouse cheddar Welsh of course.