Friday, 21 October 2011

Just like Grandma used to make!

We’ve been away in London for most of this week, Hubby was seeing a client for a few days’ training and I went along to keep him company.  Ahh, the blessings of being a full-time housewife!

I don’t know if it was because we’ve been away, or because it’s been quite cold over the last few days, but I woke up this morning with a real fancying for proper Welsh cawl.  When I was a child this was my favourite dinner; my grandparents lived in the same street as us and my grandmother, with whom I was incredibly close, used to make it quite often.  Hers was the best!  My mother used to make it from time to time as well, but hers was never quite as nice as my grandmother’s.

Well, today I cracked it!  I’ve been making it for 20+ years, but today’s batch was the closest I’ve ever gotten to my grandmother’s. 

After shopping for all the bits and pieces I needed, I worked out that it had cost no more than £3.62 for the meat and the veg.  Add on a couple of coppers for the stock cube and the flour and suet for the dumplings and you can see it really is a cheap meal!

It doesn’t take a lot of preparation, but it does need a good 2 or 3 hours in a very low oven.  I left mine for 3 so that it got good and thick.

Quantities will vary, depending on your pot size and how many people you want to feed – and are never fixed in stone anyway (!), but this was what I used : 

3 nice big carrots, peeled and cut into rough biggish chunks, rustic style

2 small and one biggish parsnip, peeled and cut into rough biggish chunks

about the same quantity of swede, again peeled and cut into biggish pieces

1 medium sized potato, again peeled and cut into biggish pieces

1 large leek, cut into big rings

Appx 1½ lb of diced casserole beef (skirt, shin, clod – whatever)

1 stock cube

Pour about 1tb of olive oil into a casserole and add the diced beef, stirring around to brown.  Remove to a dish and add the prepared carrot, parsnip and swede, turn the heat down as low as it will go and toss the veg around the pan for a few minutes to lightly brown them.  Return the meat and any drippings in the dish to the pan, add 1tb of flour and stir well into the contents of the pan.  Add as much hot water as is needed to cover all the vegetables and meat and then season to taste, add a stock cube and the leek and potato.  Cover and pop in a low oven for 3 hours.  I cooked mine at 130o.  Towards the end of the cooking time you can make the dumpling mix – I used 2tb flour, same of suet and a pinch of salt, adding enough water to make a very thick mixture.  Spoon tablespoonfuls into the pan and pop back in the oven for half an hour. 

Best served to a cold and hungry husband on a cold, wet and windy day!.


  1. Simply wonderful. I make all my stews like this but i don't use a stock cube, i just use fistfuls of herbs like bay and thyme. I love it, just a big bowl and a spoon, all the veggies and meat soft and tender from the slow cooking. A tbs of elderberry jelly stirred in makes it equally rich.

  2. Thanks! Do you make your own elderberry jelly? I will try that tip one day.

    Funny thing is, whenever I make any other beef casserole/stew I make it without a stock cube and with herbs - usually rosemary and bayleaves. Cawl on the other hand, has to be herbless and with a stock-cube - old lady stylee, just like Grandma used to make!

  3. Yum! I must try this one! I love these dishes that are a one-pot dish that simmer several hours making your house smell amazing and warm you up on a cold day! thanks so much for linking this recipe up to the Brighton Park best of 2011 link up. blessings to you in the new year! ~~Katie

  4. I just love to read recipes like this one!! They are simply the best when they have such history! <3

    Thank you for joining me today at my virtual soup supper!! :)


    1. Thank you Katie and Michaela. I hope you enjoy it if you try it. In my family this is THE turn-to recipe when the weather is cold or snowy!