Country Suppers: Wales


Country Suppers: Simple, Hearty Fare for Family and Friends by Ruth Cousineau is a wonderful cookbook with traditional recipes that might fit perfectly with St. Patrick's Day or any hearty celebration. This article features tips and a Welsh recipe and Country Suppers: Ireland features a book profile and a recipe for Stark Biddle's Drunken Lamb and the final sample recipe is Irish Lamb Stew.

Country Wisdom and Tips
  • Pick dandelions when they are small, about four inches long, and before they have flowered; otherwise they will be tough and bitter.
  • Dandelion juice rubbed on a wart will make it disappear—old wives' tale.
  • Cabbage is known as "colewart" in folk medicine. It has been used since 400 BC and is said to be beneficial for healing stomach ulcers, easing sore joints, and promoting clear skin, and bringing down fevers.
  • "Onion skins, very thin, mild winter coming in. Onion skins very tough, winter's coming cold and rough." -Traditional rhyme.
  • Add a spoonful of vinegar or citrus juice to a bean or pea soup to kick up the flavor.
  • Ever wonder where succotash comes from? Native Americans taught early settlers to make misickquatash, a stew of dried corn and beans or peas.
  • Always let meat sit at room temperature for an hour before roasting it or you will need to increase the cooking time by about half an hour.
  • Want to make lamb taste less "gamey"? For sweet and mild-tasting meat, remove all of the fat before cooking.
  • The secret to keeping chops from curling during cooking is to make a notch through the fat along their outside edge. This technique also works with steaks and cutlets.
  • The secret for tender muffins: stir the batter only enough to moisten dry ingredients. Resist the urge to beat the batter or you'll end up with a tough product.
  • Tired of soggy pie crusts? A spoonful of semolina under juicy fruits when baking will absorb any moisture without interfering with texture or flavor.
  • Maple syrup doesn't keep very well. However, when it ferments or tastes "off," rejuvenate by adding a tablespoon of cream to the syrup; bring to a boil in a nonreactive saucepan and skim off any foam. Cool and refrigerate. It's restored!.

Welsh Lamb with Cloves

Makes 10 to 12 Servings Welsh Lamb

This recipe comes from Jan Edwards, who is researching her genealogy. She grew up in the slate mining area of western Vermont in a community of Welsh descendants.

Please, please throw away that jar of sickeningly sweet Day-Glo-green mint jelly sitting in the back of your refrigerator, and try some of my friend Michael Wells' real mint sauce. He was a child in England during World War II when he could only dream about this sauce.

For Fresh Mint Sauce (optional)

2/3 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup packed finely chopped fresh mint leaves

For The Lamb

One 7 to 9 pound leg of lamb
36 whole cloves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To make the sauce, place the vinegar and sugar in a small, nonreactive saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Pour over the mint in a small howl and let the sauce sit several hours before serving.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Remove all visible fat from the outside of the lamb and stud it all over with the cloves. Sprinkle the lamb with the salt and pepper and place on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast the lamb until an instant meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads 125F, about l-l/2 hours. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes. Remove the cloves before carving the meat. Serve the mint sauce on the side.

Country Tips and Tales:

Too often cooks leave on the lamb fat, which gives the meat a muttony taste. Remove all the fat and you will be delighted with the lightness of the lamb flavor.

Country Suppers
Simple, Hearty Fare For Family and Friends
by Ruth Cousineau
Illustrations by Warren Kimble
William Morrow & Co., $22.00/hardcover
270 pages; November 5, 1997
Recipes and photos reprinted by permission.

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This page originally published as a Global Gourmet Today column in 1998.

Copyright © 2007, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.

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This page modified January 2007

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