Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae let the Lord be thankit.
Greetings to you all as this Burns Night draws to a close. For those of you who do not know, Robert Burns was Scotland’s most famous poet and he is remembered every year on his birthday, 25th January. As a testament to hubby’s Scottish heritage and our mutual love of haggis we celebrated the occasion with the traditional supper. We don’t quite go to the length of reciting Robert Burns’ poetry but we do enjoy our haggis, neeps and tatties with the traditional blessing, the Selkirk Grace (see above).
Many years ago I experienced my first supper in honour of the bard when hubby served up fried scallops and black pudding with garlic butter as a starter. So good! However we are on a tighter budget now so, this year, I decided to just concentrate on perfecting the main course. The potatoes need to be creamy, buttery and well seasoned but, for extra flavour, I also included a large parsnip in the mixture, which was delicious! The ‘neeps’ (turnip or, as we had, swede) should be roughly mashed with plenty of butter and black pepper so they have a chunkier texture than the tatties. My mom always used to add carrots to her mashed swede so I also threw a couple in for colour and sweetness.The haggis looks after itself but, this year, I decided to push the boat out and make a whisky sauce to top it all off.
After trawling the internet I found that many recipes were essentially whisky and cream, which I did not have. However, as I wanted a sauce not a gravy I decided to combine various ideas to make up my own version. This turned out to be a triumph, even if I do say so myself!
1 small onion, finely minced
25 ml whisky
1 tsp sugar
1 level tbsp plain flour
150 ml milk
Put the onions in the pan, season with salt and fry for as long as you can (the more caramelised they are the tastier they will be). Add the sugar after a few mins. Stir regularly and add a little water if they are sticking.
Heat a different pan up. Take off the heat and pour in the whisky before lighting to burn off the alcohol. Take care as the flames are impressive!
Spoon the flour into the onions and cook for 2 mins. Add the milk a little at a time whilst stirring constantly.
Pour in the whisky before bringing gently to the boil. Add enough vegetable water to make it into a thick sauce.
Season to taste with plenty of black pepper.
There always seems something special about our Burns Supper – something warm and cosy in the midst of chilly January. If nothing else, I feel that any poet who compliments a haggis’s honest, jolly face deserves to be celebrated.Wishing you all a lovely weekend I shall leave you with the opening of Burns’ ‘Address to a Haggis’.
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.