St. David is the patron saint of Wales and March 1st is St. Davids Day. In my previous post I had admitted that in 18 years of living in the U.S I had not once thought about the celebration of Pancake Day. The same cannot be said for St. Davids day. Every year in the final days of February I remember that March 1st is St. David Day. The thought lasts for a couple of seconds and then is quickly forgotten. This year, however I decided in some small way I will recognize this important day in the Welsh calendar.
One of the pleasures of writing this blog is that at times I have to dig deep into the memory bank for experiences long forgotten. The time in my life that I actively participated in St. Davids day was during elementary school. On the morning of March 1st we would file into the main hall for assembly. The school band would be playing and the hall would be decorated with the national flower of Wales, daffodils. We would sing songs and the teachers, and some students, would recite some verses and poetry. Adults would wear the top of a daffodil on the lapels of their jackets to commemorate the national day of Wales.
For me personally, March 1st is so much more then celebrating a patron saint. Even though the weather on March 1st is not any different from the weather on February 28th, the beginning of March allowes me to flip a switch in my mind. I can start to convince myself that warmer air, longer days and lighter brighter clothing will be ours to enjoy very soon. When I see the flower shops full of daffodils, the ultimate spring flower, the brilliant yellow petals remind me of the sun and the rejuvenation and freshness of spring.
As I stated above, I wanted to celebrate in a small way so I decided to cook a dish with another symbol of Wales, the leek. This versatile vegetable is part of the onion family, it is however not part of my everyday cooking. In Indian cooking we use onions. Therefore a leek dish is a novelty. I found a recipe for the easiest one pot meal, using another excellent Welsh delicacy, lamb at www.hotlyspiced.com. The rolling fertile land of the Welsh countryside lends well to breeding some of the best lamb in the world.
Lamb with Leeks and Carrots
2 tbspns olive oil
8 lamb chump chops
2 leeks washed, rinsed and sliced
2 carrots, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup dry red wine
375mls chicken stock
1 can tinned tomatoes
handful of freshly chopped herbs like parsley and thyme
Pre-heat oven to 350F.
Heat a large casserole dish on the stove over high heat. Add the olive oil and sear the chops in batches on both sides until golden. Remove and set aside.
Turn down the heat and add leeks, carrots and garlic and stir until softened (about 5 mins).
Add red wine and bring to the boil. Add stock, tomatoes and herbs.
Cover and place in the oven for 1 1/2 hours or until lamb is tender and falling off the bone.
Couple of things I did differently to the recipe – firstly, I used lamb in chunks as I find this form less fatty and secondly, I used rosemary, which I think is a great compliment to lamb, and I garnished with coriander.
If you are inspired in any way, small or large to celebrate St. Davids day I hope you have fun. I would love to know what you did and how it went.