Burns Night is a highlight of the Scottish calendar. Celebrated since the end of eighteenth century to commemorate the birthday of poet Robert Burns, it was initially hosted by his close friends in Ayrshire. The tradition has now spread globally, and is found wherever there is a Scottish expat community. The Burns Supper is central to the celebration, and consists of haggis and whisky, accompanied by the recitation of Burns’ poetry. A sheep’s stomach stuffed with mincemeat and vegetables, haggis is perhaps the most famous of Scottish foods. While it’s reputation precedes it, it’s actually rather delicious. We don’t have it on the menu this year, but here’s a recipe from the BBC if you want to give it a go at home.
- 1 sheep’s stomach or ox secum, cleaned and thoroughly, scalded, turned inside out and soaked overnight in cold salted water
- heart and lungs of one lamb
- 450g/1lb beef or lamb trimmings, fat and lean
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 225g/8oz oatmeal
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp ground dried coriander
- 1 tsp mace
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- water, enough to cook the haggis
- stock from lungs and trimmings
- Wash the lungs, heart and liver (if using). Place in large pan of cold water with the meat trimmings and bring to the boil. Cook for about 2 hours.
- When cooked, strain off the stock and set the stock aside.
- Mince the lungs, heart and trimmings.
- Put the minced mixture in a bowl and add the finely chopped onions, oatmeal and seasoning. Mix well and add enough stock to moisten the mixture. It should have a soft crumbly consistency.
- Spoon the mixture into the sheep’s stomach, so it’s just over half full. Sew up the stomach with strong thread and prick a couple of times so it doesn’t explode while cooking.
- Put the haggis in a pan of boiling water (enough to cover it) and cook for 3 hours without a lid. Keep adding more water to keep it covered.
- To serve, cut open the haggis and spoon out the filling. Serve with neeps (mashed swede or turnip) and tatties (mashed potatoes).