Bowl of Cawl
(click to enlarge)

Cawl / Lobsgows
Wales

Makes:
Effort:
Sched:
DoAhead:  
4 quart
***
5-1/2 hr  
Best

Cawl, often called the "national dish" of Wales, dates back to the 14th century. This is a somewhat modernized recipe, made and served much like the Lobsgows of northern Wales (see Note-6 ). Cawl is one of those dishes that is even better if let sit overnight and re-heated. See Note-7 for further hints on this.





2-1/4
12
------
10
6
7
7
------
5
1
10
5
3
2
2
9
1/2
1
------
6
1/3
------
#
oz
---
oz
oz
oz
oz
---
oz
#
oz



T
c
t
t
---
oz
c
---
Beef (1)
Slab Bacon (2)
-- Roots
Onions
Carrots
Parsnips
Rutabaga
-------
Celery
Potatoes (3)
Cabbage
Thyme sprig
Parsley sprig
Bay Leaf
Bacon Fat
Water
Pepper
Salt (4)
-- Garnish
Leeks
Parsley
-- Serve with
Brown Bread
Cheese
Prep   -   (1 hr)
  1. Trim the BEEF of excess fat and cut into pieces about 1 inch on a side. Cut BACON into pieces about 1/2 inch on a side. Mix.
  2. Cut ONIONS into chunks about 3/4 inch on a side. Peel CARROTS and cut into pieces 3/4 to 1 inch long depending on size. Peel PARSNIPS, split the big end and and cut similarly to the Carrots. Peel RUTABAGA and cut into cubes about 3/4 inch on a side. Mix all.
  3. Trim CELERY and cut into 1/3 inch lengths.
  4. Peel POTATOES and cut into about 3/4 inch cubes. Hold in cold water until needed.
  5. Chop CABBAGE coarsely.
  6. Tie Thyme Sprigs together to make removal easier.
  7. Prepare and clean LEEKS (see our Leeks page), slice very thin and chop moderately fine. Chop PARSLEY small. Mix for Garnish.
Run   -   (4-1/2 hrs)
  1. In a large heavy bottomed Dutch oven or similar (I use a 5-1/2 quart sauté pan which just fits this recipe), melt the Bacon Fat. Fry the Beef mix, stirring often until lightly browned. Remove from the pan.
  2. Stir in the Root mix. Fry, stirring often, until lightly browned.
  3. Stir in Celery and fry stirring another couple of minutes.
  4. Dump Beef mix back into the pot and pour in Water. Add Thyme, Bay Leaves and Pepper. Bring to a simmer, and simmer slowly for about 3-1/2 hours.
  5. Stir in Potatoes, bring back to a simmer and simmer another 20 minutes.
  6. Check for Salt and stir in however much you feel is needed (see Note-4).
  7. Stir in Cabbage and simmer another 10 minutes.
  8. Serve hot, with some of the Leek mix sprinkled on top. See also Note-5.
NOTES:
  1. Beef:   Weight is after removing all bones and excess fat. Any flavorful stewing cut will work.
  2. Slab Bacon:   Smoked Slab Bacon is traditional, and was sometimes the only meat used. Today smoked ham is sometimes used instead, in an effort to reduce the oiliness that Welsh working men considered essential to a good Cawl (see also Note-7).
  3. Potatoes:   The pattern recipe calls for very small new potatoes with paper thin skins. These are not much available here in Southern California, and the tiny "fingerling" potatoes commonly sold here have very tough skins. I prefer to peel and cut White Rose potatoes, which stand up well in dishes of this sort. Avoid "Yukon Gold" type potatoes which disintegrate into mush if cooked just a little long. For details see our Potatoes page.
  4. Salt:   How much salt you need depends very much on how salty your ingredients were, so use caution. You will probably want 1 teaspoon, but may want more - go by taste.
  5. Serving:   I am likely to be serving this buffet style. I bring it back up to a simmer, pour it into a slow cooker set to "keep warm" and strew the Garnish over the top, where it will get mixed in as people ladle out the stew.
  6. History:   One of the main difference between this recipe and more traditional ones is the browning of the meat and vegetables, which would have been impossible in earlier times. This step is not essential, but is often done today for a more complex flavor. Potatoes would not have been included until near the end of the 16th century, but are very common today. Traditionally, the meat and vegetables for Cawl would be cut larger. The broth would be thickened with oatmeal or flour and served separately, followed by the meat and vegetables as a separate course. Today the meat and vegetables are usually cut smaller, and it is all served together with unthickened broth. This is very similar to the Lobsgows of northern Wales. Today, in southern Wales, Cawl is often made with Lamb, and with Leeks instead of Onions, as these ingredients are so characteristic of Wales, but Beef is actually more traditional.
  7. Adjustments:   We are (mostly) not Welsh coal miners. Welsh workers considered a lot of droplets of fat floating on the top of the Cawl very desirable, and this was provided by the large amount of bacon involved. For workers in today's Information Economy, this may be a bit much. I made the recipe exactly as given above, but found it would be a bit heavy for my guests. Having made it a day ahead, I packed it in two poly bags and let them lay in the refrigerator overnight. The fat rose to the top side, solidified and stuck to the top surface of the bags. When ready to reheat, I slit the bags and poured out the soup, leaving most of the fat sticking to the bags. My guests thought it was perfect this way - but not one of them was a Welsh coal miner.
  8. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
bmm_cawl1 151120 tffw108   -   www.clovegarden.com
©Andrew Grygus - agryg@aaxnet.com - Linking to and non-commercial use of this page is permitted.