Once again, Burns Night has come around. This traditional event has been held on or near to January 25, the birth date of Robert Burns, since the end of the 18th Century.
He was the author of many Scots poems including 'Auld Lang Syne', which is generally sung as a folk song at Hogmanay and other New Year celebrations.
I believe Burns' suppers may be formal or informal but they should always be entertaining, and the only items which the suppers have in common are haggis, Scotch whisky and perhaps a poem or two.
Formal dinners often do not allow ladies to be present. Those that do may often end in a céilidh (a traditional Gaelic dance). The format starts with a welcome followed with the Selkirk Grace. After the grace comes the piping and cutting of the haggis, where Robert's famous 'Address To a Haggis' is read and the haggis is cut open.
The Selkirk Grace is a prayer said before a meal, attributed to Robert Burns: It was written for the Earl of Selkirk, and Burns wrote it as an apology when he was late for a dinner invitation. Haggis is one of those national dishes that is both beloved and reviled by natives, and sometimes horrifies people who hear it described for the first time. It even horrifies native Scots! I will forgo the actual recipe here for that very reason. Macsweens of Edinburgh is reputedly the best, as any Scot will tell you. At Friends, we pay homage by offering a few Haggis based specials, and this week will include the following recipe, for a rich and satisfying broth, which I have created.
Haggis broth with a poached egg and malt whisky glaze
Ingredients (Serves 4)
150g haggis, scooped from it's pouch
1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock
50g swede (small, evenly diced)
50g carrot (small, evenly diced)
50g onion (small, evenly diced)
50g potato (small, evenly diced)
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
6 poached eggs, cooled in iced water
4 egg yolks
25ml of malt whisky
50ml of lightly whipped double cream
Method: 1) Bring the stock to the boil, and add the bay leaf and diced vegetables.
2) Simmer for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are cooked.
3) Add the haggis and parsley. Re-boil and season to taste.
4) Make a sabayon, by whisking the yolks and whisky, in a bowl, over a pot of simmering water, until light and frothy.
5) Allow to cool slightly and fold in the whipped cream.
6) Reheat the eggs in hot water, place into the soup cups. Ladle the broth into the bowls, making sure not to over fill.
7) Spoon the sabayon evenly, over the top of each bowl, allowing it to float and cover the surface.
8) Place under a hot grill, and allow to glaze to a golden brown.
9) Serve at once, with a glass of single malt whisky if desired!