Friday, 20 January 2012

Taste of Scotland - 5

It is time to make preparations for Burns Night, which we shall be celebrating on Wednesday 25 January. You will want to eat haggis, neeps and tatties for your main course at supper.

Haggis is a dish containing sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally simmered in the animal's stomach for approximately three hours. Most modern commercial haggis is prepared in a casing rather than an actual stomach.

As a kind of savoury pudding, the 2001 English edition of the Larousse Gastronomique puts it, "Although its description is not immediately appealing, haggis has an excellent nutty texture and delicious savoury flavour".

The haggis is a traditional Scottish dish memorialised as the national dish of Scotland by Robert Burns' poem Address to a Haggis in 1787. Haggis is traditionally served with "neeps and tatties" (Scots: Swedish turnip and potato, boiled and mashed separately) and a "dram" (i.e. a glass of Scotch whisky), especially as the main course of a Burns supper.

You will be in good company feasting on this dish! Pope Benedict XVI tucked into haggis, neeps and tatties as part of a Scottish lunch prepared for him by Cardinal Keith O'Brien's housekeeper on Thursday 16 September 2010.

The lunch for the Pope - and 14 other guests, including the Scottish Catholic bishops - was cooked by Theresa Muldoon at the Cardinal's official residence in the Grange, Edinburgh.

The menu also featured roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and seasonal vegetables, followed by cranachan, and finally coffee, shortbread and mints.

Whisky is as much a part of Burns Night as haggis, but it doesn't have to be the only drink quaffed with the meal. In fact, beer and wine can be better at bringing out the full flavour of the haggis. Robust reds, dry whites and stronger, richer beers really hit the spot. For non drinkers, try serving a crisp, sharp apple juice - or you could even give them Scotland's other national drink, Irn-Bru.

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