Traditional Recipes

Welsh Luing Beef Casserole

Cooked with Dark Side of the Moose Bitter, Denbigh Plumbs and Welsh Leeks

Welsh Luing Beef Casserole

I don't think you will get a more Welsh dish than this one. I have used Braising Luing Beef Steak from my friends farm which is located high in the Welsh Hills, a dark bitter from the Purple Moose Brewery based in Porthmadog in West Wales, Denbigh Plumbs which is specific to the area where I live and finally some homegrown Welsh Leeks.

I hadn't seen Iwan and Eleanor for a few years until I bumped into them in a local food festival.  We got chatting and they showed me the beef they had for sale which comes from their own herd of Welsh Luing Beef.  I use to work on a farm many moons ago near to where they now live (Hafod y Maidd, Glasfryn near to Corwen) and you have to be a hardy sole to live and work there all year round.  Even in the summer it never really gets warm.  This is why they have opted for rearing Luing cattle on their farm. This breed is a cross between a hardy native breed of Shorthorn cross Highland cow, originally from the Isle of Luing in Scotland.  They explained to me that these home bred animals graze on the mountain heather and grass which results in a delicious, sweet tasting meat with natural marbling. (To contact Iwan and Eleanor Davies you can email them INFO@WELSHLUINGBEEF.CO.UK or visit their website )

I was looking for a good quality braising steak to go into a recipe I was developing and after their explanation I was sold and took a kilo of their finest cut.

The recipe I was looking to develop would incorporates local plumbs which are specific to the area where I live.  Each year, around October time, there is even a festival specifically organised to celebrate the Denbigh Plumb.  This plumb is sweet and juicy and would be ideal to use in a casserole to give it some sweetness to counteract the bitterness of the ale I was using but also give the dish a bit of depth.

The dark bitter used for this dish comes from one of my favorite breweries, Purple Moose, and they have a range of ales from a light ale to a dark bitter.

Ingredients for the casserole
 Ingredients Serves 4

1Kg Diced Luing Beef
500ml Dark Side of the Moose Bitter
3 Denbigh Plumbs diced
2 Carrots diced
1 medium size onion chopped and diced
3 medium size Welsh Leeks diced
1 beef stock cube crumbled
1 tsp pepper corns
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon Anglesey Sea Salt
11/2 tsp Herbs de Provence
1 tbs flour
2 tbs Welsh Rapeseed Oil (BlodynAur)

Diced Luing Beef

Dice the beef and vegetables.

Diced Carrots and Welsh Leeks

Pour 1tbs of rapeseed oil into a large casserole pan and add the onions.  Fry gently for about 4 to 5 minutes.  Remove the onions and set aside on a plate.
Add the remaining oil and beef in small batches and brown them off in the pan.
Add all the beef and onions back to the pan and add the flour, stir until the flour has disappeared.
Now add all the remaining vegetables.  
Pour in the bitter and it should froth up slightly.
Add the remaining ingredients and a bit of water until the beef and vegetables are covered.
Place a lid on the dish and place in a pre-heated oven at 160C and allow to cook slowly for 3 to 4 hours. Top up with water if required.

As I had time to spare until the dish was ready I took the family up a local mountain called Siabod.

View from the top of Siabod

View of Snowdon from the top of Siabod

By the time we had been up and down this mountain we were ready for some tasty melt in the mouth beef casserole and this dish did not let us down.  The beef was superb and there was an excellent balance between the slightly bitter sweet taste from the ale and plumbs. This dish would be excellent with either mash or jacket potatoes, enjoy.

Casserole ready to serve

Kedgeree with Smoked Haddock

Kedgeree is thought to have originated with an Indian rice-and bean or rice and lentil dish Khichri, traced back to 1340 or earlier. It is widely believed that the dish was brought to to the UK by returning British colonials who had enjoyed it in India and introduced it to the UK as a breakfast dish in Victorian times, part of the fashionable Anglo-Indian cuisine.  It is a firm favorite in our house but more at supper time than breakfast.

Ingredients Serves 2

300g undyed smoked haddock
150g peeled prawns
200ml milk to cover fish
1tsp parsley
2 bay leaves

250g pre cooked rice
1 small onion finely chopped
2 tsp mild curry powder
1 tsp English mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt and pepper

2 eggs

Cut the haddock into 3 or 4 pieces and place in a microwavable dish

Add the milk, parsley and bay leaves and cover with cling film.
Pierce the cling film before placing the dish in the microwave and cook for 3 to 4 minutes depending on the power of your microwave.  Remove and set aside leaving the clingfilm on the dish.

In a wok or frying pan placed over a moderate heat, pour in one tablespoon of oil and add the onions, mustard, curry powder and cayenne pepper.  Fry gently until the onions are soft.

Add the rice and the milk you used to cook the haddock.

Add a pinch of salt and pepper and stir gently.  Then add the prawns and haddock removing any skin. The haddock should easily flake away from the skin.

Cover and allow to simmer for a few minutes.

Place the ingredients into a serving dish and add 2 or 3 hard boiled eggs sliced in half.

If you enjoy this dish please feel free to share with others.

Scotch Egg with Cumin, Coriander and 

Edwards of Conwy Sausage Meat

Scotch Egg with Edwards of Conwy Sausage Meat

Recently my children have taken a liking to Scotch Eggs bought in our local Supermarket.  Not that this is a bad thing as Scotch Eggs are very taste but as anything massed produced they can be full of preservatives etc.  I decided to make my own and they were much easier to make and according to my children much tastier.

Edwards of Conwy Sausages

For these scotch eggs I have used sausage meat from a local company Edwards of Conwy.  I have known the owner, Ieuan Edwards, for a few years and I know he only uses the best quality cuts for his sausages.

Ingredients makes 4 Scotch Eggs

For the Sausage Mixture
6 sausages (400g skin removed)
parsley about 10g chopped finely
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds

I have added cumin and coriander to add a little bit of spice to my scotch eggs.  I roasted the seeds then ground them to a powder.

Add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl and use your hands to mix the ingredients together well

Sausage Meat mix
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and place 4 Free Range eggs into the boiling water. Remove after 5 minutes and place in a bowl of cold water.  After they have cooled the egg shells should easily peel off.  Once you have done this place to one side.

You will now need to prepare the coating to the scotch eggs.

I used 6 slices of bread, lightly toasted and then blitzed in a food mixer to prepare the breadcrumbs. Once done place in a bowl.

In a second bowl place three table spoons of flour in a bowl and add a teaspoon of salt and pepper and mix together.

Finally in a third bowl I cracked two eggs and then mix well.

Now you are ready to make the scotch eggs.  Separate the sausage mix into 4 equal parts then place the first lot of sausage meat in one hand and flatten out to make a patty.  With your other hand dip the egg into the flour and roll about until all the surface area is covered in flour.  Then place the egg into the centre of your patty.  Fold the sausage meat around the egg.

Now dip the scotch egg into the egg mixture and roll around to ensure the whole surface is coated.  Then dip into the bread crumbs.  Repeat the egg and bread crumbs process until you have a good covering for your scotch egg.
Scotch Eggs coated with breadcrumbs

Repeat the process for the remaining three eggs.

I deep fried my scotch eggs at a temperature of 180C for 4 minutes and served them with some home made chips, scummy was my daughter's comment.

Scotch Eggs ready to be eaten with some home made chips

Welsh Lamb Chops with Pesto Sauce and Pembrokeshire Blas y Tir Potatoes

Welsh Lamb Chops with Pesto Sauce
This is such a quick and easy tasty dish that is ready in about 20 minutes.  The lamb chops I bought in my local butcher in Denbigh, J.H. Jones.  The potatoes are supplied by a Pembrokeshire company called Blas y Tir (Taste of the Earth) and the runner beans are from my own garden.  The pesto sauce even though Italian in origin goes exceptionally well with the lamb.

I added a marinade to the lamb about two hours before and this helps to keep it moist whilst under the grill.


2tbs Soy Sauce
1 tbs Rapeseed Oil - I used a local brand Blodyn Aur.
1/2 tbs lemon Juice

Pour the marinade over the chops and use your hands to mix together well. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for two hours.

6 Welsh lamb chops marinaded for two hours

Pesto Sauce

50g Pine nuts
150ml of olive oil
large bunch of basil leaves
50g of grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves of garlic pealed and roughly chopped

Place all the ingredients in a food blender and blitz until you have a sauce type consistence

Place the chops under a grill for about 8 to 10 minutes turning half way through.  Time will vary depending on size and thickness of the chops.  When ready place on a plate with new potatoes and runner beans or any other vegetable of your choice and drizzle over the pesto sauce.

Welsh Lamb Chops with Pesto Sauce

Chicken Kiev

Chicken Kiev

I have fond memories of this classic 1970's dish with the moist chicken breast, breadcrumbs and when you cut it open the butter and herbs oozing out all over your plate.  When my daughter came home the other day from school and said she had Chicken Kiev for lunch but that it was horrible I decided to make my own.  It was a lot easier to make than I thought and the finished article tasted divine bringing back fond memories.

Serves 4

4 x 150g chicken breast
3 heaped tbs flour
2 free range eggs
150g breadcrumbs

For the butter
5 cloves garlic crushed
3/4 tbs traditionally Chicken Kiev is made with parsley but I used Herbes de Provence on this occasion
80g butter
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Place the butter, garlic, herbs and cayenne pepper in a blender and wiz together until you have a creamy paste.  Wrap in cling film, in a sausage shape and place in the fridge to set. 

Herb Butter

Chicken Breasts
To prepare the chicken make a pocket in the breast meat as shown in the picture. Place a quarter of the herb butter into the pocket and mold it slightly until it fills the gap then reseal the chicken. Repeat for the remaining three breasts of chicken.
Chicken breast with herb butter filling

Crack two eggs into a bowl and whisk, flour in another bowl and the bread crumbs in a third. Dip the chicken breast into the flour until it is evenly coated then into the egg mixture, then finally cover with bread crumbs.

Egg, flour and breadcrumbs

There are two ways to cook the chicken either shallow fry in a frying pan with oil or as I have done by placing the chicken in a tray, drizzle some olive oil over the chicken and place in a preheated oven at 180C for 25 minutes.

Breaded chicken ready for the oven
After 25 minutes the breadcrumbs should be golden brown and the chicken ready to be served. Place on a serving plate and serve with some young new potatoes and a side salad.

Chicken Kiev ready to serve

Slow Cooked Breast of Welsh Lamb with Apricots and Cranberry

I quite often buy half a lamb from my local butchers in Denbigh, J. H. Jones.  I have always struggled with the breast of lamb as to what or how to cook this long piece of cheap but bony, fatty unappetizing looking, long, thin piece of cut.

Now I know the answer which is to cook it slow, very slow, with lots of added ingredients to enhance the flavours.

On this occasion I prepared this one Saturday morning and put it in the oven about 10 a.m. on 120C and left it there whilst I went out for a long bike ride.

I, along with the family enjoyed the excellent result with some mashed potatoes later that evening.

Ingredients Serves 4
2 breast of lamb (ask you butcher to prepare the breast if you prefer, a good butcher should remove the bone, skin and excess fat)
5 apricots chopped
5 leaves of fresh sage or 2 tsp of dried
5 leaves of lemon balm (optional, had some in the garden, use rind of half a lemon cut into thin strips)
2 bay leaves
20g cranberries
20g goji berries
Few pinches of salt (Anglesey Sea Salt) and pepper to taste
2 large carrots roughly chopped
2 large potatoes roughly chopped
1 onion sliced
1 tbs flour
1 tbs oil (BlodynAur Welsh Rapeseed Oil) or sunflower oil if not available
1 lamb or chicken stock cube
1 veg stock cube

If your butcher has kindly prepared the breast for you then roll it out onto a wooden block.  

Breast of Welsh Lamb
Start placing the cut apricots onto the breast of lamb

Place apricots onto the lamb
Add the berries, leaves and salt and pepper to taste. 

Cover with Cranberries, goji berries and sage

Once you have added the ingredients, gently roll up the breast of lamb and place two skewers through the meat to hold it in place.

Rolled up breast of Welsh lamb ready for the oven
In a large heavy base casserole pot add the oil and the sliced onions, fry gently for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the flour and stir in.
Roughly cut up the carrots and potatoes and with the lamb place in the casserole pot with the onions. Add the stock cubes and water until it covers the ingredients.  Place covered in a pre-heated oven at 120C for 6 to 7 hours. Check occasionally and top up with water if required.  When ready to eat remove the ingredients and place in a serving dish and keep warm.
Place the casserole dish on a high heat and reduce the liqueur until you have a thick sauce.  Pour over the lamb.
The lamb should be tender and falling apart ready to eat.  Just add some mashed potatoes for this excellent flavoursome dish.

Spatchcock Chicken

with garlic and coriander

Spatchcock chicken - Here's one I prepared earlier

Until recently I use to cook all my chickens in the traditional manner, whole. But always found the breast to be slightly dry even when I stuffed various pastes under the skin or doused the chicken in different marinades.

But ever since I cooked a whole chicken spatchcock style I have been converted, especially when cooked first on a very high heat then reduced to about 160°C.  The meat literally falls of the bone and the breast remains moist to eat.

A spatchcock chicken use to be referred to as an immature culled male chicken but is more commonly referred to these days to a type of preparation technique.  To prepare the chicken either take a strong scissors or sharp knife and cut along the back bone then turn the chicken over and flatten in a cooking tray as shown in the picture.

This chicken is excellent when cooked as a summer dish and served with couscous or salad.

Serves 4

1 Whole Free Range Chicken about 1.8kgs

1 bulb of garlic (about 14 cloves) peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 birds eye chilli (optional) chopped
1 1/2 tsp of rosemary (if you have fresh rosemary growing in your garden take a sprig of rosemary about 4 cm long. Take off the leaves and chopped.
2 bay leaves chopped
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp of cumin seeds
1/2 tsp of pepper corns
2tbs olive oil
Bunch of fresh coriander chopped finely
2tbs soy sauce

This marinade is good to get rid of some of that frustration out of your system.  In a pestle and mortar place the garlic and salt and start pounding, then add each ingredient in turn until you have a paste. Alternatively you can blitz the ingredients in a food processor.  Pierce the breast and legs a number of times, smear the paste over the breast, legs and wings and pour 2 table spoons of soy sauce all over. Place in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours, but preferably overnight to marinade.

When you are ready to cook place the chicken in a baking tray with a bath of about 500 ml of water. Place two carrot halved underneath to lift the chicken slightly this will help prevent the chicken catching on the tray. Place foil on top and place the chicken in the top half of a preheated oven at 200°C.  Cook for 20 minutes and then reduce the heat down to 160°C for about 1 1/2 hours.  About 20 minutes from the finished cooking time remove the foil.  If the water has evaporated add some more.

When cooked remove from the oven, replace the foil and let to rest for about 10 minutes.  Before serving cut the chicken up by using a large sharp knife, the chicken at this point should come apart quite easily.  With the knife, cut the leg in half so that you have a drum stick, then cut the remainder of the leg at the joint next to the body of the chicken.  Next cut the wings at the joint next to the body of the chicken and then separate the two breasts.  Finally place the 8 sections of the chicken on a warm serving plate.

Slow Roasted Welsh Leg of Lamb

This dish is dedicated to Gianna who has asked me for this recipe every time she comes over from Italy with her family to stay at our house.  Finally after a number of years I have sat down to write the recipe.

Welsh lamb is succulent, flavoursome and when cooked slowly as in this dish there is hardly the need to carve the meat as it just falls apart when you serve.

To me Welsh lamb when cooked properly is one of the best meats available and with over 11 million sheep in Wales we have had enough opportunity to practice cooking it.

There are two ways to cook a leg of lamb which will depend on the age and time of year you buy it. Spring lamb needs to be cooked quickly at a high heat and should be slightly pink when carved but I prefer mine when the lamb in slightly older, autumn time, as I believe it has more taste.  This leg of lamb needs to be cooked at a high heat and then turned down and cooked slowly for a few hours.

I bought this leg in my local butchers in Denbigh, J H Jones and the lamb came from the butchers own farm in Cyffylliog, how more local than that can you get.

For this dish I have kept the ingredients simple.

Serves 6 to 8 people

Whole leg of Welsh Lamb 2.6kgs

3 sprigs of rosemary  chopped or 2 tsp chopped dried rosemary
2 bay leaves chopped
1 tbs olive oil
1 large bulb of garlic, cloves pealed
1/2tsp pepper corns
1/2tsp salt

For the gravy
2 carrots
1 onion
1 garlic bulb
1tbs flour

Place all the ingredients for the paste in a pestle and mortar and bash away till you have a reasonably smooth paste.  Pierce the meat with a sharp knife, don't be shy you need the flavours to permeate throughout the joint.  Smother the leg of lamb with the paste, cover and allow to marinade for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight in the fridge.

When you are ready to cook take a roasting tin cut a large carrot or two small carrots in half. Remove the skin from the onion and cut into four.  Cut the bulb of garlic in half and place all in the bottom of the roasting tin.  Pour in 500ml of water and then place the lamb on top of the vegetables.  Cover with foil and place the roasting tin in a preheated oven at 200°C for about 35 to 40 minutes.  Reduce the heat after this to 160°C and cook for a further 2 1/2 hours.

For the last 1/2 hour remove the foil.  When cooked place the lamb on a warm serving plate to rest and cover with foil.  The vegetables in the roasting tin will have cooked down and combined with the meat juices will provide a fantastic basis for your gravy.  

After you have removed the lamb remove the veg and place in a bowl, carefully prise out the succulent garlic cloves from their casings and then discard the peelings, and pour the juices into the bowl.  Allow to stand for a minute until you can see the fat raise to the top, remove the fat and place back into the roasting tin then blitz the remaining juices and veg together.  Put the roasting tin on a low to medium heat and when the fat starts to bubble add a heaped tablespoon of flour.  This is where you need to be quick with a whisk stir quickly to mix the fat and flour together in the tin.  When you have a paste type consistency start adding the remaining juices and mix together.  You will need to add water at this point till the gravy is at the consistency you like.

Serve the lamb with your favourite veg and potatoes and don't forget the mint sauce.

Sweet Duchess Potatoes

(Posh Mash)

If you want a dish to give a little bit of wow factor to your meals here's one, basically posh mash.

You can make these plenty of time before hand, place in the fridge and when ready to cook place them in the oven at 180°C for about 25 minutes.


Serves 6

800g white potatoes diced
800g sweet potatoes diced but make sure they are nearly twice the size of the white potatoes otherwise your sweet potatoes will cook to quickly and turn to mush.
80g butter
3 egg yolks
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of nutmeg

Place the potatoes in water and bring to the boil.  When you are able to cut the potatoes with only a very gentle pressure from a knife they are ready.  Pour away the water and allow the potatoes to stand for about 8 to 10 minutes, you need to get rid of any moisture.

Use a potato ricer to mash your potatoes.  If you don't have a ricer use a potato masher but be careful not to over mash otherwise the potatoes becomes gluttonous.

OXO Good Grips Potato Ricer
Add the three egg yokes, butter and nutmeg and with a fork mix in to the mash.
Place the mix into a piping bag, be careful not to overfill, with a large star tube. Pipe into Duchesses shapes, need to make small rotary moves.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C until edges turn slightly brown

Welsh Lamb Cawl

Cawl Cymreig.jpg

Cawl or broth is usually associated with winter but many years ago when I left school I worked for a while on a Welsh hill farm.  It was shearing time, it was a hot day and we had been hard at work since seven in the morning shearing and lunchtime approached. I was famished and we all piled into the farmhouse kitchen for lunch.  Bowls were laid out ready on the table with freshly baked bread with a couple of packs of cigarettes in the middle of the table to be enjoyed afterwards (don't forget this was quite a few years ago).  Steaming lamb cawl was served and boy did it go down well, once finished we were ready to shear a few hundred more sheep.

Cawl has over the last few years become an iconic Welsh dish with lamb and leek being one of the main ingredients but traditionally, depending on the region you lived in Wales beef, pork or bacon could have been used.  As a side dish Cawl can be accompanied by fresh crusty bread and a piece of white Caerphilly cheese.

A few years ago I use to run a small business making traditional prepared meals and Cawl was one of my best sellers.  Even though many people believe this type of dish to be fatty and full of calories, if done properly this does not have to be the case.  The meals I made had less than 300 calories per 400g portion.

The original Cawl would have been done with cheaper cuts such as lamb’s neck, but in this recipe I have used diced shoulder of lamb with some small twists to bring it up to date with today’s tastes.

Serves 6
Diced lamb   500g
Diced Potatoes 500g
Diced carrots  250g
Chopped onions 250g
Chopped Leeks 250g
Flour 100g
Sherry vinegar  1 teaspoons
Red current Jelly 2 teaspoons
Worcester Sauce  2 teaspoons
Thyme             1 teaspoons
Pepper             ¼ teaspoon
2 cubes of Lamb Stock

On a medium heat on the hob add the onions and leeks to a casserole dish and gentle fry till soft. Toss the lamb in the flour and add to the dish and stir a few times. Add the remaining vegetables and top up with water until just covering all the ingredients.  Add the remaining ingredients and place the casserole dish in a pre heated oven 160°C and cook for about 3 hours.  The lamb should fall apart when tested.

For the best result leave to cool and eat the next day, by then the juices of the meat and vegetables have had time to marinate properly. You can then reheat quickly on the hob but make sure you keep stirring the cawl otherwise it might catch on the bottom.  If you can't wait till the next day serve immediately into a bowl and have plenty of fresh crusty bread ready for dunk.  This dish is excellent at freezing and is a handy meal to have if in a rush.

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