Traditional Welsh recipe for a classic stew

Lobscouse is a traditional Welsh recipe for a classic stew. The original recipe stems from the Norwegian Vikings who raided the Welsh coasts after the Roman occupation. The recipe is based on an original Norwegian recipe for Lopskaus, which was made using fish. The Welsh preferred the taste of lamb and had it in abundance and so substituted the fish for lamb, and lamb was substituted for beef in other areas. Thus lobscouse as we know it today was born.

Lobscouse became a very popular dish in the 1700s aboard ships. Sailors used to keep the meat stored in barrels, heavily salted so it would keep for a long time. In the North Wales slate quarry communities, where money was always tight, traditionally this recipe would sometimes start out with meat, which would be put into the cook pot over the fire once a week. Daily it would be topped up with water, potatoes and root vegetables!

This dish gets tastier each day, so when the initial cooking process has been completed, why not leave it overnight and eat it the next day! This dish is terrific stuff to serve on cold winter nights.

Welsh Lobscouse Ingredients
Serves 4-5

50ml Vegetable oil
800g, Neck of Welsh mutton/lamb fillet or Stewing Beef or Shin of Beef cut into rough 2cm cubes
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
2-3 Leeks 2, cut into 11⁄2cm pieces
2 large Onion, peeled
3-4 Carrots, peeled and roughly chopped 500g to 1 KG Potatoes, peeled, quartered/split into chunks
200-250 g Peas, fresh or frozen
Lamb or Beef stock 2 liters+ top up when cooking
Thyme a few sprigs, 1-2 Bay leafs
Parsley 25g, finely chopped

Optional extras for taste:
Pearl barley 50g (optional), 1 tbsp Worcester sauce, 2 tsp Dijon mustard, 3 tbsp brown sauce (HP)

Add an impressive finishing touch – Put a lid on it with puff pastry
400g/14oz puff pastry and 1 free-range egg, lightly beaten

Next Steps

Heat the oil in a casserole dish and brown the beef or lamb on all sides. Once browned, remove from the pan and leave to one side. Add the onions to the casserole used to cook the meat and fry until softened, but not browned.

Return the lamb to the pan and add all the remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, place on the lid and cook for two hours, or until the lamb is starting to fall off the bone. If the liquid reduces too much during cooking top up with water. Taste the liquid in the pan and season with more salt and pepper if required. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

Roll out the pastry slightly larger than the casserole dish. Cut a line of pastry the size of the circumference of the dish. Place the line of pastry around the rim of the dish. Brush with egg and stick the pastry lid on top, pressing the edges to seal. Brush the top with egg. Bake in the hot oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden-brown. Lechyd da!

About the author: John Hadwin a top tour guide in North Wales and the owner of Boutique Tours of North Wales, specializing in private and small group tours. He is the owner of the Alice Court Guest House, an Edwardian Guest House right in the heart of the coastal town of Llandudno, which offers Tour and Stay sightseeing tours of North Wales, the Snowdonia National Park and the Isle of Anglesey.