IT says something about Scotland’s long-standing love affair for Robert Burns that January 25th is more widely celebrated than Scotland’s official, oft-neglected national holiday, St Andrew’s Day.
There’s a very simple reason for that: Burns Night is not only a day for celebrating the poetry of the Bard, but it also rejoices in Scotland’s most traditional meal. Haggis, neeps and tatties is not the most glamorous dish, but tucking into this stout, hearty fare nonetheless feels like a special occasion.
These recipes are by no means definitive, set-in-stone guides on how best to enjoy Burns Night, but each recipe offers its own quirks on Burns Night staples - even with such seemingly humble fare, there’s plenty of room to be creative with such heart-warming and versatile ingredients. If you’re stuck on which recipes to choose for your own Burns Supper, you could always make them all and turn your three-course meal into a buffet.
Rolled smoked salmon with cream cheese on potato bread
500g/18oz peeled potatoes
170g/6oz plain flour
Two heaped tsp finely chopped fresh chives
250g/9oz cream cheese
Two heaped tsp finely chopped fresh dill
Six slices of smoked salmon
A little cream (optional)
Garnish with a sprig of dill or salmon caviar
Cook and mash potatoes with butter then leave to cool until workable by hand. Add sieved flour and gently knead into a dough, adding more flour if necessary. Roll out dough to 1cm thickness and cut into pieces the size of your frying pan. Oil the pan and cook the bread for three to four minutes on each side. Cut into circles using a round two-inch diameter cutter. Lay a piece of cling film on a flat surface. Place the salmon on top, layering it into a rectangle. Leave a rim of excess cling film around the salmon. Place cream cheese in a bowl, adding a little cream to make it spreadable. Add dill and season. Spread cheese thinly and evenly over the salmon, taking hold of excess cling film to roll firmly but slowly away from you, like a Swiss roll effect. Once cling film is tightly around the salmon, twist the ends and tie. Leave for at least one hour in the fridge then slice and place on potato bread. Garnish with dill or salmon caviar and serve.
Button mushroom stuffed with haggis, topped with fillet steak
Ingredients (makes 15):
15 button mushrooms
200g cooked haggis
230g/8oz beef fillet
Preheat the oven to 180C. Wash, peel and remove mushroom stalks. Pour a little oil and season the baking tray. Place mushroom top-side down on tray. Stuff with cooked haggis, drizzle with oil and season. Bake for 4-5 minutes. Cut beef into 1cm thick slices and fry in a hot pan with oil and seasoning, for about one minute on each side. Cool and cut to fit mushroom.
Haggis, Neeps and Tatties
500g large potatoes
400g sea salt
60ml milk, boiling
Preheat oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Prick the potatoes, place the sea salt on a baking tray and put the potatoes on top. Bake for an hour and a half or until soft. Once cooked, cut in half and scoop out the potato (this method will keep the mash dry) then slowly add the butter, milk and season, then set aside.
1 large turnip
pinch of nutmeg
Peel and dice the turnip, then cook in a pan of salted water until tender. Drain and mash with butter, salt and nutmeg and set aside.
1 large potato
10ml clarified butter
Peel the potato and slice into thin strips. Mix with clarified butter and salt. Place in a non-stick pan in the shape you wish, then gently heat until crispy.
Poach the haggis in smoking water for an hour and a half. Open and serve with equal amounts of neeps and tatties, a crispy potato and a wee dram.
Vegeterian haggis is a relatively new addition to a Burns Night table, but it’s very popular. MacSween, the haggis maker, say that one in four of all haggises they sell is vegetarian. It is usually made with kidney beans, lentils, nuts, vegetables, oatmeal, onions, seasoning and spices. If you choose to make it yourself, then it also has the benefit of taking considerably less time to make - the meaty haggis can take up to two days to make; vegetarian haggis is usually a 30-40 minute job.
2oz rolled oats
2oz pinhead oatmeal
2oz mixed chopped nuts
2 oz margarine
1 large carrot
1 large onion
small can kidney beans (drained)
2 oz vegetarian suet
1/2 teaspoon yeast extract
1 tablespoon (or more!) whisky
1 teaspoon (at least) freshly ground black pepper
juice 1/2 lemon (or 1 lime)
3 teaspoons of dried mixed herbs
Melt half the margarine in an ovenproof saucepan / casserole. Add oats, oatmeal and nuts and cook for 3 minutes. Put in bowl. Chop carrot, mushrooms onion and kidney beans finely. Melt rest of margarine, add chopped veg, and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, and the oat mixture. Cook for 5 minutes, then transfer to a medium oven for 40 minutes.
Hot whisky and marmalade pudding with Drambuie custard
150g fine brown breadcrumbs
25g self-raising wholemeal flour
120g light brown soft sugar
120g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the bowl
175g well-flavoured, coarse-cut marmalade
3 large eggs
1 rounded tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the custard
150ml full fat milk
150ml double cream
1 vanilla pod, split, seeds scraped out and reserved
3 egg yolks
30g caster sugar
Butter a three-pint pudding basin and choose a saucepan large enough to hold the pudding basin comfortably. We use three-pint plastic basins that have a matching lid, perfect for this recipe.
Place the breadcrumbs, flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Melt the butter and marmalade together in a saucepan over a gentle heat, but do not boil. Pour the melted ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together thoroughly.
Lightly whisk the eggs until frothy and beat gently into the mixture until well blended. Last of all, dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in 1tbsp of cold water. Beat this into the pudding mixture, which will increase in volume as it absorbs the bicarbonate of soda – leave to stand for five minutes for the bicarb to work. Cover it with a double Place the pudding basin in a saucepan of boiling water. The water should reach halfway up the side of the basin. Simmer the pudding steadily for two hours. The water will need topping up throughout the cooking period. Meanwhile, make the custard.
Place the milk, cream and vanilla pod and seeds into a thick-bottomed pan and place on a high heat until boiling. In a stainless steel bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar together with a balloon whisk until the mixture becomes thick, fluffy and pale.
Add the hot mix to the eggs. When stirring, make sure that you cover the whole pan by stirring in a figure of eight rather than round and round.
The mixture should begin to thicken within about two minutes. You’re looking for a temperature of 82C. When the mix has thickened enough to coat the back of the spatula, take off the heat and strain immediately through a fine sieve to remove any small lumps which may have formed. Serve immediately, or pour into a clean bowl, cover with cling film (touching the surface to avoid a skin forming) and chill in an ice bath.
Uncover the pudding and turn it out onto a warm serving dish. Serve hot with the warm custard.
Highland cream liqueur creme brule
eight egg yolks
100ml whisky cream liqueur
100g caster sugar
one vanilla pod
extra caster sugar for topping
Pre-heat oven to 210C. Place cream in a saucepan with vanilla pod and whisky. Slowly bring to boil then remove from heat. Mix egg yolk and caster sugar together in bowl then add the cooled cream mixture and blend gently. Divide mixture into ramekins. Put the ramekins into a large cake tray or roasting dish. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of ramekins. Place dish with ramekins into oven and cook for 40 minutes at 210C. Allow to cool. Sprinkle caster sugar to cover the top. Use a blowtorch to melt sugar or place under a grill.
Whisky is the cornerstone of any Burns Supper. Besides quaffing it in sizeable (but sensible) doses, you’ll find it in quite a few recipes as well. If your palate needs a break from the scotch though, a robust red wine will do just fine: Cabernet Sauvignon, a Shiraz or a Malbec would work particularly well. Wines from southern France or Spain also come recommended.
Macallan Old Fashioned
Macallan Fine Oak Scotch whisky
Take an old fashioned glass and stir in a quarter of a measure of vanilla syrup together with a dash of Angostura bitters for five seconds.
Add three ice cubes and one shot of the Macallan Fine Oak. Stir smoothly for 20 seconds then fill the glass with ice and add in another shot of the Macallan.
Stir the mixture for a further 30 seconds, before garnishing with a twist of lemon zest, and serving.
Famous Grouse Scotch Whisky
Add 50ml of the Famous Grouse whisky, 25ml of lemon juice and 12.5ml of sugar syrup to a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with fresh, solid ice cubes and shake vigorously for ten to 12 seconds.
Carefully open the shaker and place a strainer over the top. Pour the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with the orange zest, and serve.