Sunday, March 01, 2009

Dydd Dewi Sant Hapus iawn

What other way is there to celebrate St David's Day than tucking in to a big bowl of cawl cennin. Internet meet Jo's cawl cennin, cawl cennin meet the Internet!
I would go so far as to say that there isn't a Welshman or woman out there who doesn't like cawl* you'd be mad not to love it's lamby/leeky/brothy sweetness especially when served with a chunk of really good steam baked Swansea batch and a chunk of cheddar** Writing this post is making me salivate/dribble simply at the thought of it.
I use my Auntie Marg's recipe. First I think I need to explain about Auntie Marg is not really my auntie; in fact, she is no relation at all to either my mother or father who are both in fact only children BUT she is instead that strange phenomena that was all over Wales in the mid 70s, when children were brought up jointly (particularly during long school holidays) by their own parents and the parents of every other child on the street and indeed by neighbours who didn't even have children at home anymore.
If Andrew and I were out and about playing with Anna-Maria (see above) or Richard or Lynwen/Gareth/Bethan or any of other children around and their parents were feeding them, then they fed us too. Or just as likely if Anna-Maria was in our garden when Andrew and I had lunch - well, she stayed (see above). And because of this - maybe it is a Welsh thing after all - these people became honorary, much loved, aunties and uncles. We knew them too well to call them Mr or Mrs. It would have been forward of us as little children to call them by their christian names so Uncle Gino***, Auntie Pat, Uncle Dil and Auntie Marg it was!
Anyways, back to the recipe, except that there isn't really a true recipe, Auntie Marg just kind of made it up as she went along BUT it goes a lot like this.
1) In your biggest saucepan place a shoulder of mutton**** and cover with water. Add a bouquet garni - yes she really did but it was a rustic looking one, not one of those nice little tea-bags from the supermarket. This was more like an onion with a bay leaf, carrot and some celery, tied together in a bit of muslin with string/strong cotton. Turn on the gas/electric and bring to the boil and then turn it down and let it simmer, removing any scum until the meat is falling off the bone. Then (and this really is an important step) turn off the gas, put a lid on the pot, walkaway from the stove and leave the whole thing alone over night. NO PEEKING!

2) Come morning there will be a disc of yellow fat on top of the soup - take this off and discard it. Little bits will be left behind - that's fine, just discard the majority of the fat. If you leave it in, it tastes too strong and coats your mouth with too much fat. Discard the bouquet garni - it's done it's job too. Take the lamb out of the stock and shred it off the bone. Return to the broth. At this point I discard the bones - I don't think there's anything else I can do with them is there?

3) At this point Auntie Marg always threw in a handful of red lentils. The only "thickener" in the broth/soup. Turn the gas back on and bring to the boil once more, now turn it down to a rolling simmer. Leave for 20 minutes.

4) Now is the time to add your vegetables - leeks obviously ... it is cawl cennin after all; after a thorough wash the green and white parts of the leeks are sliced but not finely, your making a stew not a soup ~ there needs to be texture to them. Onion - sliced, similar to the leeks. Carrots - again sliced not to fine. Parsnips - cut into bite sized pieces. Make sure there's enough water to cover the vegetables stir well and leave.

5) After about 40 minutes when the vegetables are soft to the touch, check the seasoning and add a big handful of chopped parsley.

6) Serve piping hot with a bread to dip and a good wedge of cheddar cheese. The cheddar gets croken into chunks and dropped into the soup to melt.
* Except for the vegetarians and vegans obviously and I'm not going to say anything about them right now because I don't want to offend anyone honestly and vegetarian food can be delicious. But vegans??? How can anyone go through life without chocolate - it's not right. In fact I'd go so far as to say it's ALL WRONG!
** Can't be doing with Caerphilly which is what my mother prefers - too crumbly!
*** Yep, I even have an Italian uncle.
**** If you haven't got a saucepan big enough now is the time to get out the hacksaw. If you can't get mutton, lamb will do BUT mutton is better.


Betty C. said...

Oh, this looks delicious. I'll have to ask my Welsh colleague about it. I've been so lazy this winter, I don't think I've made more than one or two stews!

Le laquet said...

It really is delicious Betty and very good in the credit crunch! Where is your Welsh colleague from?

Anonymous said...

i thought lamb was mutton? it does look good, i love stew on these cold winter days.

Ms Mac said...

Happy St David's day to you!

I've nevertried caerphilly, what kind of cheese is it/is it like?

Big cwtch!

Bev Sykes said...

One of these days, Welsh people are going to discover vowels and make it easier for the rest of us.

** Hr bcs mnglng **

Anonymous said...

please send recipe!