Welsh Cawl

Yippee! Autumn has finally arrived so it's time for some nice warming dishes that will see us through all the cold dark nights... and there's no better way to start than with a big tasty bowl of Cawl. This is basically a traditional Welsh stew; there are many local and family variations - this is my other half's recipe, and it's pretty damn good! If you're vegetarian or fancy a meat-free dish just leave out the meat, either way it will taste great. In my opinion this dish is best made a few days in advance as the longer it's left the better it tastes - trust me!!


  • 500g beef brisket
  • 500g new potatoes
  • 2 large white potatoes
  • 4 large carrots
  • 1 large white onion
  • 2 leeks (remove the outer leaves) 
  • 1 medium swede
  • 3 litres vegetable stock (home made or from stock cubes)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 25g butter

Prepare it!

Wash all the vegetables, the only thing you need to peel is the swede and the onion, then cut everything into nice big chunks (as long as it's all roughly the same size it's fine).

Cook it!

  1. Get a nice size stock pot or large saucepan and throw in all the vegetables, then place the whole piece of brisket on top.
  2. Make up approximately 3 litres of vegetable stock and pour over the meat and vegetables until they're just covered. Add a good grind of salt and pepper - but not too much as some stock cubes tend to be on the salty side! It's much better to season to taste at the end of cooking.
  3. Sprinkle over the sugar! I like to add a pinch of sugar with vegetables as this really helps to bring out their flavours. Place on the lid and bring to the boil on a medium heat hob.
  4. Once it comes to the boil turn it down to simmer. Cook for about 2 1/2 hours or until the meat is falling apart.
  5. Fish out the meat with a slotted spoon, pull into chunks and put back in the pot. Give it a good stir and check the seasoning, add the salt and pepper bit-by-bit and taste as you go - it's a tough job but someone has to do it!
  6. Stir in the butter, put the lid on and leave it to cool completely. Place in the fridge and leave for at least 2 days, the longer you leave it the tastier it will be.

Serve it!

Spoon out the amount you want to serve into a clean saucepan and heat through gently (you don't need to boil it). Serve with big chunks of buttered crusty bread, and if you're like my other half he has to have big chunks of mature cheese with it too! I'm not sure about that myself; I think it's a Welsh thing! Anyway, why not give it a go and decide for yourself...

This quantity makes a mountain of Cawl - enough to feed a small army. I like to have it for a couple of days then freeze the rest into recycled butter tubs, these will make lots of great instant dinners for the cold evenings to come!