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The best recipes to cook for a Burns Night supper

Burns Night, often an extravagant affair involving bagpipes, lashings of whisky, and a toast to the haggis, traditionally takes place around the birthday of the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns.

This year, we celebrate on Monday January 25, smack bang in the middle of the latest national lockdown. But while it may be a quieter affair than usual, we can still hope to recreate some of the pomp of the very first Burns Night in 1801, when friends of Rabbie came together to commemorate his death a few years earlier. 

The undisputed highlight of the evening is, of course, the emphatic rendition of Burns’s ‘To a Haggis’. During the poem the haggis is theatrically split open (‘his knife see rustic labour dight’), with care being taken to ensure a good amount of its gory innards are exposed (though make sure to make an incision in the haggis before the address – your fellow diners may not thank you when you go in to slit your haggis and it pops under the pressure, showering them in bits of scalding meat). 

After the address, the feast of haggis, neeps and tatties, cock-a-leekie soup and cranachan or clootie dumpling can finally be enjoyed, before a long night of drinking, dancing and entertainment to celebrate the life of Scotland’s favourite Scot (he even beat William ‘Braveheart’ Wallace in a Scottish television poll).

For our Burns Night feast, we have looked beyond turnips and potatoes for a modern menu with Scottish significance. Featured below, our favourite recipes will take you through from dawn to dusk…

Scotch pancakes with rhubarb compote

Scotch pancakes


Credit:
Lisa Linder

Start the day on a celebratory note with Flora Sheddon’s Scotch pancakes with a bright pink rhubarb compote. 

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 20 minutes 

MAKES

roughly 15 pancakes

INGREDIENTS

For the rhubarb compote

  • 5 sticks of rhubarb, sliced into 2cm chunks
  • 50g honey
  • Zest of ½ orange and 50ml juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla

For the pancakes

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 150ml milk
  • 1 large egg
  • Butter, for cooking

To serve

  • Yogurt of your choice
  • Drizzle of honey

METHOD

  1. Place all the compote ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil and cook until the rhubarb has softened (roughly five to seven minutes). Do not over cook it as the lovely pink willwith fade. Set aside but keep warm.
  2. For the pancakes, place all the ingredients, apart from the butter, in a bowl and whisk together until the batter is smooth.
  3. Heat a little butter in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and use a piece of kitchen roll to spread it over the whole pan. Spoon in two tablespoons of batter (or more if you want itthem larger), making it as round as possible. You don’t need to spread it out, it will settle naturally. Cook for a few minutes or until bubbles start to form on the surface of the pancake. Flip it over and cook for a further few minutes.
  4. Transfer to a warm plate and cover with a clean tea towel while you repeat with the rest of the  batter.
  5. Serve with the warm compote, a good dollop of yogurt and drizzle of honey. The compote can be kept in a sterilised jar in the fridge for up to a week.

Haggis sausage rolls

sausage roll


Credit:
 Andrew Crowley

It wouldn’t be Burns Night without a haggis to address – and Rose Prince has a twist that may convert skeptics (though traditionalists may prove harder to convince). 

Prep time: 45 minutes, plus chilling time | Cooking time: 15-25 minutes

MAKES

Canapés for 12

INGREDIENTS

  • 250g plain white flour
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 100ml cold water
  • 2 tbsp whisky
  • 500g haggis, or 2 Macsween game haggis
  • 1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt

METHOD

  1. To make the pastry, put the butter between two sheets of greaseproof paper and tap hard with a rolling pin to soften. Put all the flour in a heap on the work surface and add the butter breaking it up into thumbnail sized pieces. Add the water and whisky, then form into a dryish dough; wrap the piece of dough in greaseproof paper and put in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  2. Next, roll the pastry into a rectangle, about 20cm x 40cm. Fold it into three, like a letter, tap it with a rolling pin, turn it 180 degrees, then roll out again to 20cm x 40cm. Repeat the process, fold, tap with the rolling pin, wrap and refrigerate again for 30 minutes. The pastry should by now have absorbed the dry and floury bits.
  3. Third stage: repeat the rolling, folding and tapping one last time and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using the pastry.Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas 7.
  4. Remove the haggis from the casing and lightly mash it to loosen the texture. Roll the pastry on a floured worktop to make one large square, 30cm x 30cm and ½ cm thickness (you will probably have too much pastry but it freezes well.) Cut the pastry square in half to make 2 rectangles.
  5. Spoon half of the haggis down the length of each rectangle, positioned along the edge. Snip the edge of the opposite edge of pastry. Brush the still exposed pastry with egg wash and roll up the pastry so the haggis is snug inside it. Brush the whole roll with egg wash and repeat with the other side.
  6. Place each roll on the baking sheet. Bake for 15-25 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven, slice and serve warm.

Scotch broth

Scotch broth


Credit:
David Loftus

For chef Tom Kitchin, no traditional Scottish meal is complete without a hearty Scotch broth. Usually it’s made with lamb, but he gives his a twist by adding mutton: it creates a truly juicy depth of flavour. 

Prep time: 15 minutes, plus soaking time | Cooking time: 1 hour 45 minutes

SERVES 

Six

INGREDIENTS

  • 100g pearl barley
  • 75g dried split peas
  • 1 x 1kg piece of mutton shoulder, flank or neck (bone in)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large leek, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • ¼ small Savoy cabbage, shredded
  • 1 medium swede, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley

MEDIUM

  1. Soak the pearl barley and the split peas in separate bowls of cold water for a minimum of 3 hours, preferably overnight. Drain and rinse well.
  2. Trim excess fat from the piece of mutton. Put the mutton and pearl barley in a pot with 2 litres cold water and slowly bring to a simmer. Add the salt.
  3. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, occasionally skimming off any fat or residue that floats to the surface. Add the vegetables, garlic and split peas and continue to simmer gently for up to an hour until the mutton is thoroughly cooked.
  4. Add a little water if the broth is looking too dry. Remove the mutton from the pot and separate the meat from the bone. Tear the meat into shreds and return to the pot. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve hot, sprinkled with parsley.

Haggis, neeps and tatties pie

neeps and tatties pie


Credit:
LAura Edwards

A glorious haggis pie by Telegraph columnist Georgina Hayden, starring swede and potatoes – not for the purists, granted, but for anyone who would like to try something a little different.

Prep time: 30 minutes, plus 30 minutes chilling | Cooking time: 1 hour 25 minutes

SERVES

Six to eight

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g shortcrust pastry, chilled
  • 50g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • Plain flour, for dusting
  • 750g potatoes, such as Maris Piper
  • About 75ml milk
  • 2 onions
  • 250g swede
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 454g haggis, crumbled
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 500ml beef stock
  • ½ bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 40g mature cheddar

METHOD

  1. Take the pastry out of the fridge 15 minutes before rolling it out. Lightly grease a 23cm loose-bottomed cake tin with sides that aren’t too deep. Dust a worktop with flour and roll out the pastry to a circle ½cm thick, so the diameter is about 8cm wider than the tin. Line the tin with the pastry, and press it into the sides. Prick it all over with a fork, then chill it in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4.
  3. Line the pastry with greaseproof paper and fill as high as you can with baking beans or rice. This will help stop the pastry shrinking down during baking. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the beans and paper and bake for a further five minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  4. Now make the filling. Peel the potatoes, cut into large chunks and place in a pan of cold water. Bring to the boil, then cook for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through. When they are ready, drain and mash with the butter and a splash of milk until smooth. Season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Peel and finely chop the onions and swede. Place a pan on a medium-low heat, drizzle in a little olive oil and add the chopped veg. Fry for five minutes, add the haggis and fry for a further five minutes. Stir in the tomato purée and Worcestershire sauce, and add the stock. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until thickened. Add the parsley and stir it through.
  6. When everything is ready, assemble the pie. Spoon the haggis filling into the baked pastry case. Evenly fork or pipe the mash on top. Grate over the cheese and bake the pie for 30 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Leave to rest for 10 minutes, then serve, with steamed greens and gravy, if you like.

Beef and potato stew

beef stew


Credit:
Issy Croker

Gizzi Erskine uses ox cheek, oxtail or featherblade because they cook into juicy, falling-apart meat and a delicious mouth-sticking braise.

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 3 hours 45 minutes

SERVES

Four

INGREDIENTS

  • Olive or rapeseed oil or ghee, for frying
  • 2 ox cheeks (roughly 900g), each cut into 6 pieces
  • 10 small onions or shallots, peeled but left whole
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • 2 carrots, halved lengthways and cut into 6cm pieces
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 500ml fresh beef stock
  • 1 leek, cut into 4 long sections
  • 400g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • A handful of parsley, chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

METHOD

  1. Heat a frying pan and put in one tablespoon of your chosen fat. Season the ox cheek pieces well with salt and pepper and brown them in batches. Remove them from the pan once nicely caramelised and set aside.
  2. In a heavy-based casserole, heat another couple of tablespoons of fat and throw in the onions and the bay leaf, rosemary and thyme. Allow to cook for five minutes over a higher heat than normal, until the onions start to soften and caramelise a little at the edges. Next add the carrots and cook for a couple more minutes, stirring regularly.
  3.  Stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the stock and the leeks, followed by the ox cheeks and their residual juices. If necessary top up the casserole with water so that everything is just covered with liquid. Bring to the boil, then simmer and cover.
  4. Cook gently for two-and-a-half hours. Add the potatoes, stir gently, replace the lid and cook for a further 40 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through and the meat gives way. Check the seasoning and stir in the parsley.
  5.  Turn off the heat and leave the stew to rest with the lid on for 10 minutes before serving with crusty bread and butter – or double up on potatoes and serve with creamy mash.

Recipes taken from Slow by Gizzi Erskine (HQ, £25)

Cranachan


Credit:
Lisa Linder

A classic cranachan is a delicious mix of cream, raspberries, toasted oats and a splash of whisky. Here Flora Shedden gives the dessert a seasonal twist by swapping the raspberries for silky pears simmered in whisky and honey. 

Prep time: 15 minutes, plus 2 hours setting time | Cooking time: 35 minutes

SERVES

Four to six

INGREDIENTS

For the pears

  • 4 whole pears
  • 100ml whisky
  • 100g runny honey
  • 3-4 strips orange zest
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste

For the crème legere

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 20g cornflour
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 250ml double cream

To finish

  • 200g granola (I like a simple oat and honey)
  • 8 orange shortbread biscuits (see below or use shop-bought)

METHOD

  1. Peel, halve and core the pears and place in a deep saucepan with a lid. Add the rest of the poaching ingredients with 250ml water, cover and bring to the boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes until soft (test the centres with a knife). Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool.
  2. With the lid off, turn the heat up under the poaching liquid to reduce by at least half, or until it thickens a little. Discard the zest. Leave to cool.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together until smooth. In a pan, bring the milk to the boil with the vanilla. Pour this over the egg mixture, whisking until smooth. Pour back into the pan over a low heat. Whisk gently, constantly, until it thickens, for three to five minutes.
  4. Pour into a plastic tub and refrigerate for at least two hours until set, then whip the double cream until it holds soft peaks. Loosen the set custard with a spoon then add the cream and whisk together until smooth.
  5.  To assemble, cut the cooled pears into long slices (roughly eighths). Divide the slices of one pear between your glasses or bowl. Spoon some of the whisky syrup on top. Sprinkle with a quarter of the granola and a few crushed biscuits. Divide a quarter of the crème legere between the glasses. Repeat three more times, leaving a little granola and shortbread to sprinkle on at the end. Chill until ready to serve.

Read more: A blow-out Burns Night menu of haggis mac and cheese, winter slaw and boozy chocolate brownies

Are you celebrating Burns Night with a traditional – or not so traditional – Scottish meal? Tell us what you’re cooking and how you’re planning to celebrate in the comment section below.

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