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A Welsh Feast: 12 Dishes You Can Make at Home

Mussel Chowder - a delicious Welsh recipe

A Welsh Feast: 12 Dishes You Can Make at Home

Croeso! Welcome to a delightful exploration of Welsh cuisine. This collection of Welsh recipes is designed to guide you on a culinary journey through the Welsh valleys, bustling towns, and charming coastlines. Famed for its rich history and verdant landscapes, Wales also boasts a diverse and delectable food heritage that is waiting to be discovered.

From leek-infused dishes, paying homage to our national symbol, to the succulent lamb reared on our lush mountainsides, and not forgetting the beloved Welsh cakes and Bara Brith, each dish will unlock a new story about our wonderful nation.

Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a cooking novice, this guide will guide you step-by-step, making the process enjoyable and the results delicious. So, roll up your sleeves, put on your apron, and let’s begin our Welsh culinary adventure!

Recipe 1: Cawl (Welsh Lamb Stew)

Cawl is a traditional Welsh dish renowned for its rich, comforting blend of tender Welsh lamb and hearty root vegetables, simmered to perfection in a warming broth. This lamb stew is a culinary emblem of Wales, capturing the essence of its pastoral landscapes and history in a single pot.

Ingredients:

500g Welsh lamb shoulder, cut into chunks
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 leeks, sliced
3 carrots, sliced
1 swede, peeled and cut into chunks
1 onion, sliced
1.5 litres of lamb or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)

Cooking Instructions:

Place the lamb chunks in a large pot, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes, skimming off any impurities that float to the top.

Add the sliced onion to the pot, followed by the stock. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 1 hour.

Add the potatoes, leeks, carrots, and swede to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for another hour until the vegetables are tender.

Ladle the cawl into bowls, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve with crusty bread on the side.

Brief History of Cawl:

Cawl, often considered the national dish of Wales, has a long-standing history embedded in Welsh culture and is a cornerstone of traditional Welsh recipes. Originating in the medieval period, Cawl started as a simple broth made with whatever ingredients were readily available, typically mutton or goat and root vegetables. The dish was meant to provide hearty sustenance for hard-working rural families.

Over the centuries, the recipe evolved, with lamb eventually replacing mutton as the primary meat. Today, a traditional Cawl may feature a variety of ingredients, including leeks, carrots, and potatoes, but it always retains its comforting, hearty nature.

Every region, and even every family, in Wales may have its own version of Cawl, making it a truly versatile dish. Whether as a warming stew in the middle of winter or a celebration meal for St. David’s Day, Cawl continues to hold a special place in the heart of Welsh cuisine. This enduring popularity is a testament to the timeless appeal of Welsh recipes

Cawl, Welsh, cuisine
<strong>Cawl<strong>

Recipe 2: Welsh Rarebit

Welsh Rarebit is a classic Welsh dish that transforms a simple cheese on toast into a culinary delight. It’s a savoury treat made with a smooth, tangy cheese sauce, often spiked with beer and mustard, generously spread over thick slices of crusty bread and grilled to perfection

Ingredients:

4 slices of thick crusty bread
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon English mustard powder
200ml beer (preferably Welsh ale)
250g mature cheddar cheese, grated
2 egg yolks
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions:

Preheat your grill to medium-high.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and mustard powder to create a roux.

Slowly add the beer, stirring continuously until you have a smooth sauce.

Add the cheese, stirring until it has melted. Remove from heat and stir in the egg yolks. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper to taste.

Toast the bread on one side under the grill, then spread the cheese mixture thickly on the untoasted side. Grill until bubbling and golden.

Serve your Welsh rarebit hot with a side of pickles or a crisp green salad.

Brief History of Welsh Rarebit:

Welsh Rarebit, a sumptuous variation of cheese on toast, has an intriguing history woven into the fabric of traditional Welsh recipes. The dish originated in the 18th century, originally known as ‘Welsh Rabbit’, despite having no rabbit in its ingredients. The name likely arose as a humorous English nickname, playing on the notion that cheese was a humble substitute for meat in the diet of less affluent Welsh people.

Over time, the term ‘rabbit’ morphed into ‘rarebit’, as it is known today. The recipe has remained relatively consistent over the centuries, traditionally featuring a rich, savoury cheese sauce made with sharp cheddar, beer or ale, and mustard, all melted together and poured over slices of toasted bread.

This enduring dish has firmly rooted itself in Welsh cuisine. It is featured in many cookbooks and is served in restaurants and pubs across Wales. Its widespread popularity showcases the universal appeal of traditional Welsh recipes and their ability to turn humble ingredients into something truly special

Recipe 3: Glamorgan Sausages (Vegetarian)

Glamorgan Sausages are a delightful vegetarian alternative from Wales. These sausages boast a crisp exterior and a comforting, savoury interior made from a mixture of breadcrumbs, leeks, and cheese. The result is a flavoursome and satisfying dish that showcases the versatility of Welsh cuisine

Ingredients:

225g fresh white breadcrumbs
175g leek, finely chopped
125g Caerphilly cheese (or cheddar), crumbled
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 medium eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
Flour, for coating
50g butter, for frying

Cooking Instructions:

In a bowl, mix together half of the breadcrumbs, leek, cheese, and thyme.

Add in half of the beaten eggs to bind the mixture together, then season with salt and pepper.

Divide the mixture into eight and shape into sausage-like cylinders.

Dip each ‘sausage’ into the remaining beaten egg, then roll in the remaining breadcrumbs to coat.

Melt the butter in a pan and fry the sausages on medium heat until golden and crispy on all sides.

Serve your Glamorgan sausages hot with tomato chutney or a dollop of HP sauce.

Brief History of Glamorgan Sausages:

Glamorgan Sausages, or Selsig Morgannwg in Welsh, is a traditional vegetarian dish that traces its origins back to the county of Glamorgan in South Wales. This dish, which is a proud part of Welsh culinary heritage, showcases local ingredients in a delightfully flavourful sausage.

The earliest known reference to Glamorgan Sausages is in the 1850s, but the dish surged in popularity during World War II due to meat rationing. It was during this period that the vegetarian Glamorgan Sausages became a staple in Welsh households, and it’s continued to hold a beloved place in the cuisine ever since.

Recipe 4: Laverbread (Seaweed Puree)

Laverbread, not a bread but a seaweed puree, is a unique and traditional Welsh delicacy. Made from laver seaweed, it has a deep, savoury flavour often described as ‘the Welshman’s caviar’. It can be served in various ways, including as a spread on toast, or fried into small patties.

Ingredients:

500g laver seaweed

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions:

Rinse the laver seaweed thoroughly under cold water.

Put the laver in a saucepan and add just enough water to cover. Simmer gently for 6 hours, or until it becomes a puree.

Stir in the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and cook for another 30 minutes.

Serve your laverbread on toast or as part of a traditional Welsh breakfast.

Brief History of Laverbread:

Laverbread, or Bara Lawr in Welsh, is a traditional Welsh delicacy with roots dating back centuries.

Historically, the collection of laver was a communal event in coastal communities, particularly in South Wales. After harvesting, the seaweed would be washed and boiled for many hours until it transformed into a soft, dark green puree. This would then be traditionally rolled in oatmeal and fried, often served with bacon for breakfast.

The earliest written references to laverbread date back to the 16th century, although its consumption likely predates this. Over the years, laverbread has remained a staple in Welsh diets due to its rich nutritional value, including high levels of iodine and iron.

Despite its humble origins, Laverbread has even found its way into the menu of fine-dining establishments, demonstrating the versatility and unique appeal of this seaweed dish.

Fruit Cake - Bara Brith
<strong>Bara Brith<strong>

Recipe 5: Bara Brith (Fruit Loaf)

Bara Brith, translating to ‘speckled bread’ in Welsh, is a beloved traditional fruit loaf. Packed with a delightful medley of dried fruit soaked in tea, this rich and moist loaf embodies a sweet and subtly spiced flavour. Often enjoyed sliced and buttered, Bara Brith is a quintessential Welsh teatime treat

Ingredients:

300g mixed dried fruit
200g dark brown sugar
300ml hot tea
1 egg, beaten
450g self-raising flour
1 tablespoon marmalade

Cooking Instructions:

Soak the dried fruit and sugar in hot tea overnight.

The next day, preheat your oven to 170°C (325°F) and grease and line a loaf tin.

Stir the beaten egg, flour, and marmalade into the soaked fruit mixture. Mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 1.5-2 hours, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Allow the bara brith to cool in the tin before slicing. Serve with butter.

Brief History of Bara Brith:

Bara Brith is a cherished traditional fruit loaf that holds a special place in Welsh baking traditions, it’s origins are rooted in the rural communities of Wales, where homemakers would make the most of available ingredients.

Historically, Bara Brith would have been baked in a ‘pot oven’ – a cast-iron pot buried in the hot ashes of a fire. While the cooking methods have changed over time, the love for Bara Brith certainly has not.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, as baking ingredients became more widely available, Bara Brith grew in popularity. It was often served on special occasions.

Recipe 6: Welsh Leek and Potato Soup

Welsh Leek and Potato Soup is a creamy, comforting dish that showcases two of Wales’s most cherished ingredients: leeks and potatoes. Its smooth texture and delicate balance of flavours make it a heart-warming choice for a starter or a light meal, embodying the homely essence of traditional Welsh cooking.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 leeks, sliced
500g potatoes, peeled and diced
1 litre vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh chives, for garnish

Cooking Instructions:

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and leeks, cooking until softened.

Add the potatoes and vegetable stock, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender.

Use a blender to puree the soup until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with chives, and serve with a slice of crusty bread.

Brief History of Welsh Leek and Potato Soup:

This soup combines two of Wales’ most cherished ingredients, leeks and potatoes, into a comforting and hearty dish.

Leeks have a long-standing association with Wales, stemming from an ancient tale where Welsh soldiers wore leeks in their hats to distinguish themselves from their enemies during a battle in a leek field. Today, leeks are a national emblem of Wales and are used extensively in its cooking. Potatoes, too, have been a staple in the Welsh diet since the 16th century due to their versatility and abundance.

This simple, yet delicious, soup likely has its roots in the rural communities of Wales, where people depended on what they could grow in their gardens. The combination of leeks and potatoes would have offered a nutritious and filling meal for hard-working farmers and their families.

Recipe 7: Tatws Pum Munud (Five Minute Potatoes)

Tatws Pum Munud, translating to ‘Five Minute Potatoes’, is a traditional Welsh one-pot dish. Despite its name, it takes a bit longer to cook, but the result is worth the wait – tender potatoes, smoky bacon, and onions, all simmered in a flavourful broth. It’s a hearty, simple, and satisfying meal.

Ingredients:

500g new potatoes, halved
200g smoked bacon, chopped
1 onion, sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
500ml chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley, for garnish

Cooking Instructions:

Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan and fry the bacon until crisp.

Add the onion and continue to cook until softened.

Add the potatoes to the pan and pour over the chicken stock. The stock should just cover the potatoes. If not, add some water.

Cover the saucepan and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Season with salt and pepper.

Serve your Tatws Pum Munud garnished with fresh parsley.

Brief History of Tatws Pum Munud:

Tatws Pum Munud is a traditional dish that speaks to the heart of Wales’s rustic cuisine.

The recipe is believed to have originated from North Wales, particularly from the rural areas where quick, hearty meals were a necessity for farmers and labourers. Tatws Pum Munud is cooked in a single pot, making it an ideal dish for those needing a nourishing meal after a long day’s work.

While the ingredients are simple, the dish is noted for its deep, satisfying flavours, often enriched with stock and occasionally with a hint of cider. It’s a testament to the culinary tradition of making the most out of humble, locally-sourced ingredients.

Welsh Anglesey Eggs
<strong>Anglesey Eggs<strong>

Recipe 8: Anglesey Eggs (Eggs with Leeks and Potatoes)

Anglesey Eggs is a comforting Welsh dish that combines the humble yet delicious flavours of leeks and potatoes beneath a layer of creamy cheese sauce and a perfectly cooked egg. This hearty bake is a testament to the homely and satisfying nature of traditional Welsh cuisine.

Ingredients:

4 eggs
500g potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 leeks, sliced
50g butter
50g all-purpose flour
300ml milk
100g cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions:

Boil the eggs for about 10 minutes, then peel and set aside.

Boil the potatoes until tender, then mash them and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F).

In a pan, melt half the butter and sauté the leeks until softened. Mix the leeks into the mashed potatoes.

In the same pan, melt the remaining butter, stir in the flour and cook for a minute. Gradually add the milk, stirring until you have a smooth sauce.

Stir in half the cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Spread the leek and potato mixture in a baking dish, make four wells in the mixture and place an egg in each.

Pour the cheese sauce over, making sure the eggs are covered. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.

Serve your Anglesey Eggs hot from the oven.

Brief History of Anglesey Eggs:

Anglesey Eggs, or Wyau Ynys Môn, is a traditional Welsh dish named after the island of Anglesey in North Wales.

The dish combines some of Wales’ most common and cherished ingredients: leeks, potatoes, and cheese. But it’s the crowning feature, a perfectly cooked egg, that gives the dish its name.

The origin of Anglesey Eggs isn’t entirely clear, but it’s likely that the dish arose out of necessity in rural households, where self-sufficiency was the norm. Using what was on hand—potatoes from the garden, leeks from the field, eggs from the hens, and cheese from the dairy— resourceful cooks would have created this deliciously hearty meal.

Recipe 9: Crempog (Welsh Pancakes)

Crempog, also known as Welsh Pancakes, are a delightful breakfast staple in Wales. Thicker than the typical pancake, Crempog boasts a fluffy interior and a lightly crisp exterior. Often stacked high and served with classic accompaniments like butter, sugar, or jam, these pancakes make any morning extra special

Ingredients:

350g plain flour
75g caster sugar
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
450ml buttermilk
Butter, for cooking

Cooking Instructions:

In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs and buttermilk. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing until you have a smooth batter.

Heat a little butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Ladle in some batter and cook until bubbles form on the surface, then flip and cook the other side until golden.

Serve your crempog warm with a drizzle of honey or a dollop of fresh cream.

Brief History of Crempog:

Crempog is one of the oldest recipes in Wales, with versions dating back to the 17th century. These thick, fluffy pancakes are a beloved part of Welsh culinary tradition, often enjoyed on Shrove Tuesday, birthdays, and other celebrations.

Unlike the thin, crêpe-like pancakes often associated with Shrove Tuesday in other parts of the UK, Crempog are more akin to American or Scotch pancakes. They are traditionally cooked on a bakestone (or ‘maen’ in Welsh), a cast iron griddle that was a standard piece of equipment in Welsh kitchens for centuries.

A stack of Crempog in a frying pan resting a red and white chequered table cloth
<strong>Crempog<strong>

Recipe 10: Conwy Mussels

Conwy Mussels celebrate the finest seafood from the Welsh coast. These fresh mussels, steamed in a fragrant broth of garlic, shallots, and white wine, offer a taste of the sea with every bite. A popular dish that showcases Wales’s abundant and high-quality seafood offerings.

Ingredients:

1kg fresh mussels
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
300ml dry white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh parsley, for garnish

Cooking Instructions:

Rinse the mussels under cold water, scrubbing off any dirt or grit.

Discard any mussels that are open and don’t close when tapped.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and Add the shallots and garlic, and sauté until soft and fragrant.

Pour in the white wine and bring to a boil.

Add the mussels, cover the pot, and steam for about 5 minutes, or until the mussels have opened. Discard any mussels that remain closed after this time.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to serving bowls. Pour the wine broth over the mussels.

Garnish your Conwy mussels with fresh parsley and serve with slices of crusty bread.

Brief History of Conwy Mussels:

Conwy Mussels have a distinguished heritage that contributes significantly to the tapestry of Welsh cuisine. This coastal region has been renowned for its mussel harvest for centuries, with the tradition of mussel picking dating back over 200 years.

In Conwy, mussels are gathered using a unique method: hand-raking. This traditional method is environmentally friendly and sustainable, as it helps preserve the natural ecosystem of the mussel beds, which in turn supports the local fishing industry.

Historically, these mussels were a staple food for the working classes, providing an abundant and nutritious food source for the local community. They were typically cooked simply, often steamed and served with a dash of vinegar. Over time, Conwy Mussels have gained wider recognition for their superior quality and taste.

Today, Conwy Mussels are highly sought after, not just in Wales, but across the UK and beyond. They are used in a variety of Welsh recipes, from traditional broths to modern fine-dining dishes, reflecting the diversity of Welsh cuisine.

Recipe 11: Teisen Lap (Moist Fruit Cake)

Teisen Lap, a traditional Welsh Moist Fruit Cake, is a delightful dessert that’s rich with dried fruits and warm spices. Its name translates to ‘moist cake’, which perfectly describes its soft, crumbly texture that’s wonderfully moist from the fruit and milk. A sweet ending to any meal, Teisen Lap is a beloved part of Welsh baking tradition.

Ingredients:

225g self-raising flour
125g butter
125g sugar
125g currants
2 eggs
125ml milk
1 teaspoon mixed spice

Cooking Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 160°C (325°F) and grease and line a round cake tin.

In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a little flour with each to prevent curdling.

Fold in the remaining flour and mixed spice, followed by the currants.

Gradually add the milk, mixing until you have a soft dropping consistency.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 1.5 hours, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Allow the Teisen Lap to cool in the tin before slicing.

Serve with a cup of Glengettie tea or Welsh Brew for a truly Welsh experience.

Brief History of Teisen Lap:

Teisen Lap, a classic Welsh fruit cake, has a history steeped in the rural heritage of Wales. The origins of this ‘Moist Cake’ can be traced back to the traditional farmhouse kitchens of Wales, where family recipes were an integral part of community life and were handed down through generations.

These rustic kitchens of the past were not laden with exotic ingredients. Instead, they were stocked with homegrown produce, locally sourced dairy, and simple pantry staples. Teisen Lap exemplifies this heritage, made with readily available ingredients like flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and the addition of dried fruit for a hint of sweetness and complexity.

In the days before modern ovens, Teisen Lap would have been baked on a bakestone or in a cast-iron pot, lending a distinct texture and flavor to the cake. The practice of wrapping the warm cake in a tea towel, which gives Teisen Lap its characteristic moistness, is a unique tradition that highlights the ingenious methods employed by the cooks of the past.

Traditional Welsh cakes
<strong>Welsh cakes<strong>

Recipe 12: Welsh Cakes

Welsh Cakes, or ‘picau ar y maen’, are delightful, scone-like treats cooked on a griddle. These small, round cakes are dotted with sweet currants and dusted with caster sugar, offering a perfect balance of sweetness. Warm, crumbly, and subtly spiced, Welsh cakes are a cherished treat any time of day in Wales

Ingredients:

225g self-raising flour
100g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
100g butter, cut into pieces
50g currants
1 egg, beaten
A splash of milk
Caster sugar, for dusting

Cooking Instructions:

In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and mixed spice. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Stir in the currants, followed by the beaten egg. Mix until you have a firm dough, adding a splash of milk if needed.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of about 5mm. Use a round cutter to cut out cakes.

Cook the cakes on a greased griddle or heavy-based frying pan for about 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Sprinkle your Welsh cakes with caster sugar while still warm. They can be served hot from the griddle or cold, with a generous spread of butter.

Brief History of Welsh Cakes:

Welsh Cakes or ‘Pice ar y Maen’ as they are known in Welsh, which translates to ‘cakes on the stone,’ have a long and treasured history in Wales. These delightful, scone-like treats date back to the late 19th century, originating in the country’s south.

The ‘stone’ in their Welsh name refers to the bakestone, or griddle, on which they were traditionally cooked. These were usually cast-iron plates, heated over a fire, and used for baking a variety of breads and cakes. The bakestone was a staple in many Welsh kitchens, particularly in rural areas where ovens were less common.

Traditionally, Welsh Cakes were a popular treat during celebrations, particularly at weddings. A large Welsh Cake would be baked for the bride, who would then distribute small pieces to her guests, symbolising good luck.

In the modern era, Welsh Cakes continue to be a beloved treat, not just in Wales, but across the globe. Despite the evolution of baking methods and culinary trends, the traditional recipe remains largely unchanged, a testament to the enduring appeal of this delicious part of Welsh heritage.”

And that’s it, 12 traditional Welsh dishes to transport your taste buds to the verdant hills and rugged coastlines of Wales!

You’ve simmered, baked, steamed and grilled your way through an array of ingredients and flavours, from the hearty cawl and the vegetarian Glamorgan sausages to the sweet treats of bara brith and Welsh cakes.

We hope that you have enjoyed this culinary journey as much as we have enjoyed guiding you. These recipes provide a taste of the rich heritage of Welsh cooking, steeped in history and tradition, and full of delicious flavours.

So, whether you’re of Welsh heritage, a fan of Celtic cuisine, or just love trying out new recipes, we hope these dishes bring a piece of Wales to your table.

Until next time, pob hwyl (good luck) and mwynhewch eich bwyd (enjoy your meal)!