Traditional Welsh Cawl Stew

Traditional Welsh Cawl Stew

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 2 hrs 40 mins
Total: 2 hrs 55 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
1151 Calories
56g Fat
102g Carbs
58g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 1151
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 56g 72%
Saturated Fat 19g 94%
Cholesterol 128mg 43%
Sodium 2849mg 124%
Total Carbohydrate 102g 37%
Dietary Fiber 13g 46%
Protein 58g
Calcium 322mg 25%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The saying goes "it is as good to drink the broth as to eat the meat." And in Wales, they will most certainly agree with this statement when talking about their national dish of Welsh cawl. 

Cawl is a stew made from bacon, Welsh lamb or beef, cabbage, and leeks, although using cheaper cuts of meat is also traditional. Welsh recipes for cawl vary from region to region, even season to season.

Cawl can be eaten in one bowl, although often the broth will be served first followed by the meat and vegetables—hence the quote above. Like many dishes, Welsh cawl tastes better the next day and the day after that, so don't be afraid to make it in advance or save any leftovers for reheating.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon lard (or bacon fat)
  • 2 large onions (thickly sliced)
  • 1 medium rutabaga (peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • 4 large carrots (peeled and thickly sliced)
  • 4 leeks (cleaned of all sandy grit and sliced)
  • 1 pound/450 grams beef brisket
  • 1 pound/450 grams smoked bacon (cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 pound/450 grams potatoes (peeled and quartered)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Traditional Welsh Cawl Stew ingredients

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Melt the lard in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over high heat, taking care not to burn the fat. Add the onions, rutabaga, carrots, and leeks to the hot fat and brown for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

    lard in a Dutch oven and onions, rutabaga, carrots, and leeks

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Raise the heat of the pot and add the beef to the pot and brown on all sides.

    cook beef in a Dutch oven

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Return the browned vegetables to the pot with the bacon pieces, bay leaf, and thyme.

    Return the browned vegetables to the pot with beef, bacon pieces, bay leaf, and thyme

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Cover the meat and vegetables with cold water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 2 hours, or until the beef is tender.

    stew cooking in a Dutch oven

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Remove the beef from the pot and reserve.

    remove beef from the stew

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Add the potatoes and bring back to a boil and cook for another 20 minutes, or until tender.

    beef stew in a Dutch oven

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Meanwhile, once the beef is cold enough to handle, cut into 2-inch cubes. Add back to the pot and cook for 10 minutes more.

    add beef pieces back into the stew

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Season well with salt and pepper and serve while piping hot. 

    Traditional Welsh Cawl Stew, seasoned with salt and pepper

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Tips

  • The beauty of this recipe is you have two dishes in one. The broth from the recipe can be served first as a soup or starter course, followed by the meat, potatoes, and vegetables as a main. 
  • The mix of root vegetables used in this recipe is a traditional assortment, you can vary to make a less than traditional version. Celeriac would make a nice addition.
  • Save leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for reheating as Welsh cawl tastes better the next day and even the day after.