Thursday, May 19, 2016
WELSH CAWL--CALIFORNIA STYLE
(I have written about many things in the soon-to-be ten-year history of The Buddha Diaries, but this recipe is a first...)
I have been asked by one of my very oldest friends (since the 1940s!) to send a recipe for a collection he is putting together for his Anglican church in Barcelona, St. George's. Given the name (remember Georgie, our sweet dog, who died only two weeks ago?) how could I refuse!
A proper Welsh Cawl (pronounced "cowel") uses lamb, I believe. My mother--a Welsh lady herself, and an Anglican vicar's wife--always made it with a ham hock. Here in California, we have adapted it to our own taste and substitute chicken instead, but we still call it cawl. I suppose it could even be vegetarian. It has been a favorite for a simple, healthy and substantial meal not only for ourselves, but for many guests who have enjoyed it with us at our table.
Here's our recipe:
1 large swede (that's rutabaga, for Americans)
1 large onion
several carrots and parsnips
1 - 2 cans chicken broth
2 chicken breasts
2 leeks (at least--this is the Welsh part!)
1/2 head of cabbage
Several leaves of chard or baby spinach (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
garlic and ginger powder
Directions: coarsely chop and dice the swede, onion and carrots. Dice the chicken breasts into 1" pieces and season with garlic and ginger powder. Simmer the chopped vegetables in chicken broth until slightly undercooked. (Avoid overcooking, or you'll end up with mush!) Add the chicken to the pot, and simmer gently until cooked. Add a pinch of ginger if desired. Cut leeks in 1/2 inch slices; shred cabbage and/or chard; chop parsley and set all aside until ready to prepare the cawl. A few minutes before serving, add more chicken broth if needed and bring back to a simmer; add the leeks and the shredded cabbage (and chard or spinach, if desired) and cook a short while longer. We find that 5 minutes is plenty. Stir up and serve in big bowls with chopped parsley and chunks of baguette or other crusty bread--and butter, of course.
We sometimes add a sprinkle of parmesan, if we're in the mood. You can also add other vegetables to the mix--potatoes, for example, make a fine addition. If you make a BIG pot, Welsh cawl is great for left-overs! Ours sometimes lasts several days for the two of us, if kept in the refrigerator.