Recipes: Cawl (Welsh Lamb Stew)

Cawl, Welsh lamb stew

In honour of St David’s Day (1 March) try this gorgeously simple, easy and wholesome recipe. It’s particularly good with the cheaper and bone-in cuts of lamb, for example the neck or shank. It’s wonderfully seasonal too, using up winter veg – or veg that don’t mind over-wintering – like carrots, onion, swede (or turnip), potatoes, cabbage and of course the national vegetable of Wales: leeks.
I often mix up traditional recipes to add a twist, but cawl (pronounced ‘cowel’ like towel) is a Welsh national dish so it seems wrong to play with it too much! However you can deepen the flavour with Worcestershire sauce or even soy, add a zing of mint or pop in some chilli.

Serve with mashed potato or even Welsh Cakes – the sweetness of the currants is very nice with lamb! And on the side? Some some good Welsh cheese like caerphilly, or laverbread, a food that deserves Protected Designation of Origin status as a food in recognition of its local importance.

Cooking time: 40 minutes, or slow cook 3-4 hours. Serves six.


  • 600g of lamb, preferably bone in. We recommend neck or shank, cut into bits
  • 100g bacon/pancetta
  • 200g potatoes, peeled and roughly diced
  • 200g turnips and/or swede, peeled and roughly diced
  • 1 onion, roughly diced
  • 200g carrots, peeled and roughly diced
  • 225g/8oz leek, cleaned and sliced thin
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • A generous handful of thyme, rosemary and parsley
  • ½ a small Savoy cabbage (if you fancy)
  • Vegetable/olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Take a large ovenproof dish and place on the hob. Generously dash in some oil and heat. Season the meat and pancetta and add to the pan, allowing it to brown all over. Add the onion about halfway through the process.
  2. Pour over about 1.5 litres (2 pints) of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 40 minutes.
  3. Take out the lamb, reserving the water, and debone.
  4. Place back into the water with all the vegetables except the cabbage. Either place in a slow cooker or an oven (with lid on) for at least 40 minutes.
  5. If using, shred the cabbage and add for the last 5-10 minutes.
  6. Garnish with reserved parsley or perhaps some mint.