(Belated) Happy Burns Night!

This post is a few days late in the making, but Happy Burns Day to all of you! For those of you who don’t know, good old Rabbie (Robert) is the national poet of Scotland and Burns Night is generally regarded as a good excuse (as if we needed one!) to gather with friends, eat simple good food, have a few wee drams and celebrate Scotland and The Bard! Many would say it is more our national day than St Andrew’s Day.(probably because we are a bunch of heathens.)

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This of course can mean only one thing; haggis, neeps and tatties. Haggis, ‘the chieftan o’ the pudding race’ is really really truly delicious and I urge any of you who haven’t eaten it to give it a try. I’ve happily converted both my English other half and many another over recent years! It is meaty, spicy, oaty and slightly nutty with a really pleasing texture, a very satisfying eat! Scots cuisine tends to get a bad rap with preconceptions of deep-fried Mars bars, deep-fried pizzas, deep-fried-anything-that-moves, but this is a really unfair and misleading representation! There is a  lot of tasty traditional Scottish fare such as cullin skink, Arbroath smokies, kedgeree, porridge, cranachan, shortbread, wild venison and Scottish langoustines to name just a few!

This is a simple, no-fuss meal of haggis, ‘bashit’ (mashed) neeps (there is some debate over this depending on whereabouts you are in the UK or indeed elsewhere, but either turnip or swede – the orange one anyway not the white one!) and tatties (potatoes). I’m not always a fan of the ‘poshed up’ haggis, neeps and tatties you often get in restaurants, in my opinion this is something best left un-messed with, enjoyed in its comforting heart-warming and oh-so-tasty simplicity. (Although I must say, haggis used in other recipes is always a winner with me, chicken stuffed with haggis in particular, but that’s for another day!)

You will need – one haggis to serve around three (or two if you are being very greedy like us!!). I was rather pleased that I had managed to import some Macsween’s haggis from north of the border last time my parent’s visited which meant we didn’t have to rely on Hall’s (the only haggis you can easily get in England). Hall’s is absolutely fine, but Macsween’s is, in my opinion, much better.

– one neep (turnip/swede depending on your opinion…)

– a handful of good mashing potaotes

– butter

– milk

– salt & pepper

– brown sauce

– a good Scottish whisky

Cook the haggis as per the instructions, either in a pan of simmering water (still in its casing) or emptied out into a large dish and microwaved.

Peel and dice the potatoes and turnip and boil until soft. Mash with butter, milk, salt and pepper. Serve with the haggis and a touch of brown sauce (optional, but I can’t eat haggis without it now!) and with a wee dram. If you don’t like/have any whisky then red wine goes quite well too!

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So, as you can see, a simple, tasty and satisfying meal! There’s only thing for me to leave you with now.

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face

Great chieftan o’  the puddin-race!

Aboon them a’ ye tak your place

Painch, tripe or thraim:

Weel are ye wordy of a grace

As lang’s my arm

The groaning trencher there ye fill,

Your hurdies like a distant hill,

Your pin wad help to mend a mill

In time o’need,

While thro’ your pores the dews distil

Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,

An’ cut you up wi’ ready sleight,

Trenching your gushing entrails bright,

Like ony ditch;

And then, O what a glorious sight,

Warm-reekin’, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an’ strive:

Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,

Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve

Are bent like drums;

Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,

Bethankit! hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout

Or olio that wad staw a sow,

Or fricassee wad make her spew

Wi’ perfect sconner,

Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view

On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,

As feckless as wither’d rash,

His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash;

His nieve a nit;

Thro’ bloody flood or field to dash,

O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,

The trembling earth resounds his tread.

Clap in his walie nieve a blade,

He’ll mak it whissle;

An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,

Like taps o’ thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,

And dish them out their bill o’ fare,

Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware

That jaups in luggies;

But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer

Gie her a haggis!

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