Meat, SoupAlison Lambert

WELSH CAUL (with a few extra's)

Meat, SoupAlison Lambert
I love to prepare dishes like this it is hugely satisfying to think i am just putting a bit of this and a bit of that together and before you realise you have made a deliciously healthy and hearty meal and it has cost next to nothing!  I purchased an impressive knuckle of ham at the market and some lovely baby carrots, and leeks, cleaned out the freezer and come upon some lamb scraps and bones.  Put this all together and you can make a memorable dinner like i had many times whilst living in Wales.  This dish is very versatile and it doesn't require expensive cuts of meat.  My memories of this dish varied depending on where i ate it and whom made it.  Sometimes it was heavier on the lamb/mutton, some had large pieces of bacon (fat and all) and others were laden with veggies.  Which ever way you may of had it it was always hugely satisfying and warming and always sprinkled with Caerphilly cheese (similar to sheep's feta or cows).

Please note the dumpling are totally optional.  My children love them (they do work exceptionally well in this dish)!


WELSH CAUL (with a few extras)
serves 6

1 ham knuckle, hock or something similar
2 lamb/hogget shoulder chops, shanks or something similar (lamb bones are ideal)
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1/2 leek, washed and roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
sprig fresh parsley and thyme
2 bay leaves
6 peppercorns

3-4 baby carrots per person (if using large cut finger-sized pieces)
1/2 leek, cut into thick rounds
4 medium waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
250g swede or turnips, peeled and cut into chunks
freshly chopped parsley

3 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
200g self raising flour
salt and pepper
25g butter
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary or thyme leaves, finely chopped
100 ml milk (approx)

Begin by making your stock/broth.  Add the meat including any bones into a large deep pot, add the first amount of veggies and herbs.  Cover with cold water and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently until the meat starts to fall of the bone and is very tender (1 1/2 hours). Remember to remove any scum that may appear on the surface of the stock.  I use a ladle or a spoon to do this!
Meanwhile put the potatoes on for your dumplings, by covering with cold water, adding a sprinkle of salt and cook until tender, drain and set aside.
Prepare all your vegetables; if using baby carrots, scape or peel, trim off the end, cut the potatoes and swede or turnip into even sized chunks, cover with cold water until required. Set all your vegetables aside.
Weigh out flour for your dumplings, add the butter and work in with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Add the chopped parsley and rosemary/thyme season with salt and pepper.  When the potatoes are cold mash them into the flour mixture with your hands until well combined. Do not add the milk until just before you are ready to cook them.

When your stock has cooked for a good hour, check on how the meat is going, if is tender and falling from the bone then it is ready to strain.  Obviously if it is not ready continue cooking until tender.
Strain the stock through a colander or sieve reserving all the liquid and meat.  Put the liquid back into a clean large pot and bring to the boil again.  Pick the meat off the bones and separate any large pieces, don't be to fussy with the size it is good to have large and small pieces of meat.
Add all your prepared veggies to the stock and cook gently until tender (20 minutes).  Taste for seasoning i always find i need to be quite generous with it to get some depth of flavour. 

When your vegetables are tender add half the milk to the dumpling mix (you want the dough to be moist but not too sticky).  Add more if needed.  Roll into 18 even sized balls.

Dumplings ready for the pot

Place them on the top of Caul, cover with a lid and cook gently for about 10 minutes or until doubled in size.
Serve in large bowls with a little of everything including the delicious stock.  Sprinkle with parsley and cheese and enjoy every deliciously satisfying mouthful.