The Recipes of Wales Modern and Traditional Foods

When people think of Wales the food is not what they immediately think of. Indeed, much of the traditional cookery of Wales is what might be called 'peasant food'. This is hardly surprising given Wales' history. After all the country has been rich in resources but poor in income for many centuries.

Industry dominated the country, whether predominantly agriculture in the North and heavy industry in the South. But everyone was working for someone else rather than themselves. The pennies had to be eked out and salaries were supplemented with small holdings that grew vegetables, pigs and chickens.

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Each and every last drop of use was drawn from the food an frugality was the watchword. Thus the traditional food tends to be plain, simple and hearty. In many households this is what the staple fare is like, even today.

But as the country grew more affluent and developed a middle class some traditional recipes became entrenched but, in general, there was a move away from the traditional fare to something more exotic. Influences were brought home from across the globe and there was a tendency, even at home, to mix and match.

So that traditional ingredients were combined with exotic spices and ingredients to produce something new. A new Welsh cuisine that few people ever get to see.

Here I bring you a traditional Welsh dish followed by an example of modern Welsh Fusion cooking.

Pastai Oen Cymreig (Welsh Lamb Pie)


675g neck of lamb

4 carrots, sliced

1 onion, chopped

2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

2 sprigs of parsley

250g prepared shortcrust pastry

salt and black pepper

beaten egg to glaze


Remove the meat from the lamb neck and chop the meat into small cubes. Add the bones to a pan along with the onion and whole parsley sprigs. Cover with water, season and boil for 90 minutes before straining the mixture and retaining the liquid

Tip the pastry onto a floured surface and roll out. Use half to cover the base of a 1l pie dish. Add the carrots to the base and cover with the meat before adding the chopped parsley and seasonings. Wet the edge of the pastry with water, use the remaining pastry to cover and crimp the edges with a fork. Trim the excess then cut a steam hole in the centre of the pie (this should be large enough for you to insert a small funnel later). Place the pie in an oven pre-heated to 170°C and bake for about 100 minutes, or until the pie is cooked through and golden.

When the pie is ready re-heat the stock and use a funnel to pour about 60ml of this into the pie. Serve immediately.

Cig Oen â Saws Llus (Lamb with Bilberry Sauce)


4 x 150g lamb leg steaks

1 tbsp olive oil

125g finely-chopped onions

2 cloves finely-chopped garlic

50ml raspberry vinegar

1 tsp cracked black peppercorns

120ml fresh orange juice

120ml dry white wine

1 tbsp tomato purée

150ml water

125g fresh bilberries (or the same weight of blueberries plus 1 tbsp red wine vinegar)

1 tbsp honey

3 strips of orange peel

salt and black pepper to taste


Add the olive oil to a hot pan, season the lamb leg steaks then and fry until browned on both side then set aside. Add the onion and garlic to the pan then fry until soft. At this stage add the raspberry vinegar and black pepper to the pan and boil until the vinegar has almost completely vanished. Now add half the bilberries, the honey, the white wine and the orange juice and the orange peel. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for five minutes. Now add the water and bring back to the boil.

Transfer the sauce to a lidded oven-proof dish and add the lamb steaks to this. Place in a moderate oven and cook for forty minutes. Set the meat aside in a warm place, tip the sauce back into the original pan and bring to the boil. Reduce to thicken then add the remaining bilberries and continue cooking until the skins are just about to split. Spoon the sauce over the lamb steaks and serve immediately.

The Recipes of Wales Modern and Traditional Foods

Dyfed Lloyd Evans is the creator of the Celtnet Recipes where you can find many more examples of traditional and modern Welsh Recipes as well as the best of British Recipes in general.

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