Wales and Lamb Stew

Brecon Beacons
Attribution: Foto: Heinz-Josef Lücking, Lizenz: Creative Commons by-sa-3.0 de

When I asked people what they thought of when I said 'Wales', they generally came back with 'rugby', 'male voice choir', 'red dragon' and 'Tom Jones' (he's still got it, the old goat!).
To me Wales is one particular childhood holiday and a weekend of pony trekking later on in life. Sat astride a good Welsh cob the pony trekking was a beautiful way to spend a couple of days exploring the Brecons, especially since the rain only fell when I'd finished riding. As for my childhood holiday that is crammed full of wonderful memories from my first experience of 'Space Dust' (not particularly Welsh I know, but I can't help that), sitting outside of Pembroke Castle on a Saturday morning waiting for it to open as my parents had decided to avoid the traffic and leave Berkshire at 3am, and convincing my parents later that night that they had had 13 hours sleep when in fact they'd only had one!

The Inner Ward and Keep of Pembroke Castle
Attrinution: Manfred Heyde,
 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic,
2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license
Pembroke Castle had been worth the wait. I have always liked to explore a castle at my own speed, and in those days it was break-neck speed as in my head I was usually a princess being pursued by evil princes and dragons and I would have to escape by riding my horse as fast as I could, out of the castle and far away. That does not mean I did not take in my surroundings, I did (as any good princess in mortal danger should) and I can remember the crossing the road and walking up to the gates, the walls encircling the whole compound with round turrets and a keep and a vast expanse of grass on which to gallop across.

By that tender age I was already obsessed with history and in particular the Tudors and so to come to the birthplace of Hennry VII was a momentous occasion. The castle had been standing long before Henry Tudor was born within its walls, the first castle of timber pallisades having been built in 1093 by Earl Roger of Montgomery. The castle has repelled both Welsh and English invaders and until Cromwell came along had stood the test of time. Whilst Cromwell found the castle hard to break down entirely the castle suffered considerable damage during the Civil War and was further plundered for stone by the local population. It become a ruinous castle until it was acquired in 1880 by a Mr Cobb of Brecon who spent three years restoring as much as possible but it remained ruinous until it was acquired in 1928 by Major-General Sir Ivor Philipps of Cosheston Hall. Much of the castle has been restored to its medieval status and dominating the town as it does, it certainly has the atmosphere of days gone by.

When I asked the same people as before about the food of Wales they came back with lamb, leeks and Welsh Cakes. I will admit to not having tried Welsh Cakes but there is a recipe for them on the website for Wales along with a few other dishes such as cawl. I am going to share a lamb stew with you but by all means try out the cawl and get a broth and stew in one!  A lamb stew is an ideal meal to sit down to as the nights draw in.


This is a dish that can be made in advance as the flavours deepen overtime. The vegetables can be adjusted to whatever is in season/stock at the time.


2 kg lamb shoulder, diced
olive oil
2 litres lamb stock
4 bay leaves
1 sprigs rosemary
Potatoes, the equivalent of about 8 healthy sized new potatoes
2 leeks, coarsely diced
2 swede, coarsely diced
4 leaves Savoy cabbage
2 big carrots, coarsely diced

Place the lamb into a large heavy-based pan with a little olive oil. Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes until golden brown.

Cover with the lamb stock, bring to the boil and skim off any fat and scum that rises to the surface. Add the bay leaves and rosemary and potatoes and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the remaining vegetables and cook for a further 15 minutes until tender.

When the vegetables and potatoes are cooked the stock will have reduced and you will have a warming stew ready to serve either as it is or with some warm crusty bread.

A heart warming stew.

Hints and Tips

This stew is perfect for a slow cooker. Just throw all the ingredients into the slow cooker and away you go.

Brecon Beacons Official Page 
Pembroke Castle Official Page
Welsh Tourist Board


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