The Best Traditional Welsh Cawl Recipe

Traditional Welsh Cawl
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Ratings (35)
  • Total: 3 hrs
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 2 hrs 30 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
1151 Calories
56g Fat
102g Carbs
58g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

"​Cystal yfed o'r cawl â bwyta's cig" -  "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 Swede* (peeled and cut into 1-inch/2.5-cm cubes)
  • 4 large carrots (peeled and thickly sliced)
  • 4 leeks (cleaned of all sandy grit and sliced)
  • 1 pound/450 g beef brisket
  • 1 pound/450 g smoked bacon (the whole piece cut into 1-inch/2.5-cm cubes)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 pound/450 g potatoes (peeled and quartered)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Steps to Make It

  1. Melt the lard in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over high heat, taking care not to burn the fat.

  2. Add the onions, rutabaga, carrots, and leeks to the hot fat and brown for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and reserve.

  3. Raise the heat and add the beef to the pan and brown on all sides. Return the browned vegetables to the pan with the bacon pieces and bay leaf and thyme.

  4. 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.

  5. Remove the beef from the pan and reserve. Add the potatoes and bring back to a boil and cook for another 20 minutes or until cooked.

  6. Meanwhile, once the beef is cold enough to handle, cut into 2-inch/5-cm cubes and add back to the potatoes and cook for 10 minutes more.

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

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. 

Notes: *Swede is the term in British English for Rutabaga. The mix of root vegetables used in this recipe is a traditional assortment, you can vary this but it will not be considered a classic version, so approach with care.  One vegetable which may work well is Celeriac as an addition, not a replacement for any other.