Monday, 25 January 2010

Whisky - with Haggis, Tatties and Neeps

Whisky - with Haggis, Tatties and NeepsJanuary 25th is of course the big night itself, the birthday of Scotland's Bard, Rabbie Burns. Tonight, Burns Suppers will be held around Planet Earth and The Bard's work will be recited and sung - while his national drink is drunk! Pictured to the right is the meal I have only moments ago finished (click on the image to enlarge it) and the recipe follows below. First of all, however, there is a certain formality which very much requires to be observed...

The Address to a Haggis is recited at every genuine Burns' Supper and constitutes the words of the poem of that name written by Burns. Very often - as in the video below - the Haggis will be piped in to the table before an honoured guest will give the required address. Even though you may understand little of it, I hope that you will spare a couple of minutes to watch the proper, Scottish address to the haggis as given in the video below. Simply click on the arrow in the centre of the screen to begin.


Well, how can I follow that? In the first instance, you may note that there are no specified ingredients in tonight's post. That is quite deliberate and down to the fact that a Burns' Supper is not big on quantities. It is about whisky, haggis, tatties, neeps and whisky - yes, I know! :)

The first step is to determine the cooking instructions for the haggis which you have purchased. They will vary hugely but will either be provided on the packaging or by your butcher. If you have a haggis of about half a pound, it may well feed four people - I am not joking! When the haggis' intestine is burst, the meat "flows" forth, so allow for around two pounds of potatoes and a whole suede turnip.

Haggis is usually boiled in the skin but may be required to be cooked in the oven. Your tatties will require to be peeled and cooked for around twenty-five minutes in simmering, salted water. Your turnip (neeps) will take slightly less time, so get the tatties on before preparing the turnip.

The parsnip and pea mash that accompanies our meal tonight takes the least cooking time of all. The parsnip should be peeled and simmered in salted water for ten minutes. At that time, two handfuls of frozen garden peas should be added, and cooked for a further three minutes.

When everything is ready, the tatties should be mashed, as should the neeps, separately. The haggis should be put in to a dish, to be mixed with a fair dram of the single malt. The parsnip and peas should also be drained and mashed.

A bowl should then be lined with clingfilm and firstly the haggis, then the tatties, then the neeps added, in equal portions. The mix should be pressed down firmly before being up-ended on to a plate. The edges of the clingfilm should then be held while the bowl is removed and the clingfilm subsequently pulled away.

The parsnip and pea mix should be shaped with a couple of teaspoons and added as garnish, along with a wee sprig of parsley.

PS Fancy a pudding/dessert? You can't go far wrong with Cranachan...

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