#98 Cawl

Butters and I went for a nice walk around Chorlton Water Park and the Mersey Valley. We lucky in that it wasn’t totally pissing it down with rain, as the weather has not been good of late. It was still pretty chilly though so I wanted to make something simple, nourishing and warming for when we got back. I plumped for the Welsh soup, Cawl (pronounced “cowl”, according to Griggers). Cawl is simply Welsh for soup, but it’s far from a light soup-starter; it’s a meal in one. I assume it’s a peasant dish; it is simple in its ingredients and methods, is cheap, and requires time to make it well. It’s basically the Welsh equivalent of Irish stew or Cock-a-leekie. What I like about this one is that the meat is cooked as a joint and sliced at the end and served with the vegetables and soup. To be really Welsh, marigold flowers can be added as a garnish, but I thought that was going a bit too far…

These measures make loads of Cawl – enough for 6 to 8 people.

Start off by browning your meat in some beef dripping; you need pounds altogether, either beef brisket of shin of beef, but best is to use one pound of beef and a pound of smoked hock, gammon or bacon. I went for brisket and a giant piece of smoked bacon. When browned, put in a large saucepan or stockpot. Next, brown 2 sliced onions and 3 carrots, parsnip, turnips or some swede cut into chunks; a mixture is best. Once they are browned, add them to the meat and cover with cold water, add salt and two stalks of chopped celery. Bring to the boil slowly, skimming off any scum that may rise to the surface. Add a bouquet garni (I used parsley, thyme and bay), sea salt and pepper to season, turn to a very low heat and simmer for at least three hours. I actually did all this the day before, so that we didn’t have to wait very long to eat when we got back.

About half an hour before you want to eat, add a pound of small potatoes (or larger ones cut up), and ten minutes before add a small white or green cabbage that has been sliced. When the potatoes are cooked the soup is ready. Finely slice 2 or 3 leeks and sprinkle them on top of the soup; the heat of the soup will cook them. Remove the joints and slice them up, putting some of each kind in each bowl, along with some of the veg and stock.

#98 Cawl – 7/10. A delicious, warming and beautifully clear soup. The meat was falling apart and the smoked bacon gave the whole thing a really delicious flavour. Definitely one of the best soups so far. This will become a staple winter dish, I think.

#51, Part II

The Grigson recommended getting another meal out of the shin of beef stew by simmering the stew away until nice and thick and stirring through some chopped parsley, so that’s what I did! Well I have to re-think my previous mark of 8/10, because this was absolutely gorgeous. It was a thick super beefy sauce with a good hit of red wine behind it, and the beef was so unbelievably tender I didn’t even have to chew. I think that this is one of the best meals you could make yourself. All it requires is time. I’m not sure if it’s nicer than the game pie I made recently which I gave full marks…oh bugger it:

#51 (part II) Shin of beef stew – 10/10 Completely brilliant. Go out and make it right now!

#51 Shin of Beef Stew

I have heard people talk of the shin cut of beef, and knew it is supposed to be very tasty but very tough – the legs being a well used part of a cow and all. This means long, slow cooking, and after the tough-as-old-boots braised brisket I’d done a while ago, I thought I’d get this recipe wrong too…but how wrong I was! I tell you what I did first…

I trimmed the fat and the very sinewy parts of the meat before cutting them into big chunks and tossing them in three tablespoons of seasoned flour, then I browned them in dripping in a stockpot. You can have your gas turned up to the max here -don’t be shy! When browned, I added enough beef stock to cover the pieces of meat and added one sliced onion and two good sized sliced carrots. For extra flavour, I also added a bouquet garnei of parsley, thyme and bay leaves, a glass of red wine and 3 cloves of garlic (left whole). All this was simmered for two hours and allowed to cool so that the fat could be skimmed off. That was it! Serve with some more veg – I did potatoes and turnips.

#51 Shin of beef stew: 8/10. Simple, cheap and very tasty. I know the red wine is extravagant, but this would still be lovely without. The meat was wonderfully tender and the not at all gristly (I only got one chewy bit!). Because I don’t eat meat that often, it’s such a treat to get some good quality properly treated meat like this. That butcher in Levenshulme is a keeper!

There is plenty left over, and today I am about to eat the rest! The original recipe doesn’t mention doing anything else to it, but Jane mentions that it is best eaten the day after, and also it can be reduced down to a think unctuous gravy. It is bubbling as I type! Reducing the stock to make it a sauce is definitely the right way to go. See this future post to see how it turned out….

While the cat’s away…

…the mice gorge themselves on meat!

I awoke very late on Saturday morning with a stinking hangover. I was supposed to be at work by ten o’clock, and it was almost twelve. Oh dear. I was secretly happy that I didn’t have to go in though. A small snooze later and I felt fine, and since I was at Greg’s flat in Manchester Centre (I was far too drunk to bus it home the night before) I thought I would get something nice and meaty from the Arndale Market and get Joff round.

On arriving, I found that there’s only a cheap butchers there now selling massive trays of meat for £2 a pop. Not good. The fishmonger there is excellent, and so I had a look round. I bought a couple of nice Manx kippers (I don’t like buying fresh fish on a weekend as it’s usually been there since Monday). Wasn’t sure what to do about the meat, and I’d promised meat to Joff.

I arrived home and though I’d have a look in the butcher’s shop in Levenshulme expecting it to be similar to the one in the market, but how wrong I was! I briefly talked to the chap inside, and he said that they get most of their stuff in whole and butcher it properly on site. They were getting ready to shut up shop, but the beef laid out looked very rich and red, not like the strange translucent pink meat you see in the supermarkets. I bought some shin of beef whilst I was there.

Now I had the main ingredients for a two-course feast: (#50) Kipper paste and (#51) shin of beef stew.