St David’s Day Main: Lamb Cawl Pie with Braised Leeks and Creamed potatoes

Lamb Cawl Pie

One thing they say about March is that it comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. They also call March the hungry gap as it’s an in between season with regard to the produce we have available for our tables. The transition from the truncated month of February into the new month of March always seems to catch me by surprise; although I’m very much ready for the promise of lighter evenings and nicer weather with a return to BST when the clocks go forward. But summer still is a little way of yet and the weather although very mild; has been very wet and windy recently and not at all cheerful. So, with this in mind and the fact that starting Monday the 4th of March is British Pie Week, what could be more fitting to celebrate our patron saint with than the humble pie? Pies are very traditional in Wales and served at rugby matches and with Wales not having the best of Six nations so far this year, we will allow ourselves a little comfort, this is comfort food at its best…

This pie is great as it has all the flavour of Cawl wrapped up in tasty pie crust.

For the pie filling

  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • ½ tsp flaked sea salt, plus extra, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1kg/2lb 2oz lamb neck fillet (preferably Welsh) excess fat trimmed, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2-3 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 2 Leeks, trimmed, sliced and washed
  • 2 large potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into small dice
  • ½ a small swede, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 2 Carrots, peeled and cut into small dice.
  • 500ml/17½fl oz fresh chicken or lamb stock
  • 300ml/10½fl oz cold water

For the pastry

  • 300g/10½oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • good pinch salt
  • 75g/2½oz cold lard, cut into small pieces
  • 75g/2½oz cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 1 tbsp cold water


  1. For the filling, place the flour, sea salt and a good grinding of black pepper into a large bowl and mix well. Add the lamb pieces and toss well together until the meat is lightly coated with the seasoned flour.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan and fry the lamb pieces for 3-4 minutes, in small batches, until golden-brown all over. Transfer the seared lamb meat to a large, heavy-based pan or flame-proof casserole and set aside.
  3. Return the frying pan to the heat, adding more oil if necessary, then fry the leeks for 5-6 minutes, add the other vegetables and cook for 5 more minutes, then place in the casserole with the lamb.
  4. Then pour over the stock and the water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 40 minutes, or until the lamb is just tender and the liquid has reduced to the consistency of gravy. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then remove the pan from the heat, cover and leave to cool for 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, for the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the lard and butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  6. Lightly whisk the egg together with the water, then place two tablespoons of the mixture into a separate bowl to use as a glaze for the pastry.
  7. Make a well in the centre of the flour, lard and butter mixture and add the egg. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together to form a dough, then shape into a ball. Lightly flour the work surface and knead the dough lightly, then flatten slightly into a round and wrap in cling film. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  9. Unwrap the pastry and roll out to fit individual pie dishes that have been well greased with butter, make them slightly larger than the dish, line the dishes with the pastry.
  10. Spoon the lamb mixture into the lined pie dishes until almost full leaving a little gap.
  11. Roll out your pastry and cut with a suitable size cutter for the lids to fit the pies.
  12. Brush the rim of the pie dish with the reserved egg and water mixture. Press the pastry ring onto the rim of the pie dish, overlapping slightly at the end join. Brush lightly with a little more egg and then cover the pie completely with the rolled pastry, making a small hole in the lid.
  13. Press the edges firmly to seal, then trim the pastry and flute all the way around. Brush the pastry with the remaining egg mixture and place the pies on a baking tray. Bake the pies in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden-brown and crisp.
  14. Serve the pie piping hot with creamy mashed potatoes and Braised leeks.

This recipe has our Professional Cookery Level 2 qualification right through it, with techniques ranging from:

Unit – 222 Preparing Meat

Unit – 229 Cook & finish basic meat dishes

Unit – 245 preparing basic pastry products.

It also covers some of the range from Unit 226 preparing vegetables for basic dishes.

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