January 25th is Burns Night in Scotland. Every year this is a very important day – it’s fair to say it is an institution in Scottish life. Burns Night is to celebrate one of Scotland’s most favorite sons, national poet Robert Burns, and January 25th is his birthday (born in 1759). He wrote many poems that Scots quote and recite but you will all know him as the author of Auld Lang Syne. If you have Scottish roots, love tartan, or just a good hearty feed, create your own Burns Supper!
The traditional starter for a Burns supper is Cock-a-Leekie. This strange sounding name is actually not really strange when I tell you it is chicken and leek soup. You’ll find so many variations of this recipe. I’ve picked out the tutorial from Ann Mulhern from the Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow – a place created by another great Scot, Charles Rennie MacIntosh.
I might upset a few Scots here, but I wouldn’t recommend that newbies make a haggis. Seriously – just buy a good one and cook it how you’re shown in the video. I know many are put off by the description of a haggis – which yes, isn’t the most appealing – but like any food, you really don’t know until you try it. And you CAN’T have a Burns Night Supper without a haggis as it is the focus of the meal and the celebration and as you’ll see later, there’s a whole ceremony involving the haggis.
Another strange sounding dish, but not really. Neeps and tatties is simply a veggie dish of Scottish turnip (called swede in the UK and rutabaga in the US).
Skirlie is a Scottish dish, made from oatmeal fried with fat, onions, and seasonings. It can be used as an accompaniment to the haggis and neeps and tatties, or it can be mixed with mashed potato in places of the neeps and tatties.
A Drambuie based trifle. Drambuie is a honey whisky liqueur. Tipsy Laird got its name because the alcoholic ingredients would make the diners slightly drunk! However, in reality, there is little alcohol in the trifle and the “tipsy” or tipsy effect is due to the “wee drams” of whisky drunk during toasts or throughout the evening’s entertainment
Whether you serve these or not depends on how many courses you want at your Burns Supper. Serve them with cheese as the cheese course, or serve them as a starter with smoked salmon.
A “cookie” recipe loved the world over, it is good to have a pile of shortbread handy for when guests start knocking back the whisky. And if you’re not into the whole Burns Night thing, make some shortbread anyway, in your own toast to Scotland.
So now you know what to cook, you need to know how the evening plays out. This is no, greet your guests, sit them at the table and invite them to partake of the delicious food you’ve rustled up kinda’ event. There’s a whole schedule to follow if you want to do it properly, but it’s quite involved so the best thing to do is to take a look here and see if it’s something you want to commit to. If you’re going to go to all the trouble of cooking a traditional supper, I think it makes sense to go the whole hog – don’t you? Plus it’s a lot of fun! And, don't you want to know what a Scotsman wears under his kilt?
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