25 January is both Burns night and mine and Andrew’s anniversary – 18 years this year! We’ll be celebrating our happy lives together in Sri Lanka this year, which is a pretty spectacular way to celebrate. As for Burns night, I couldn’t resist our annual haggis, neeps and tatties, and so I cooked a haggis for dinner last weekend.
Usually when I cook a haggis, I microwave it, as it takes just a few minutes for dinner to be ready as opposed to an hour in the oven. This year, however, I decided to bake it, as I would then have the opportunity to cook my jacket potatoes from scratch in the oven as well (usually I microwave them and just finish them off in the oven). It was much better than a microwaved version so give it a go – okay it takes an hour but it is worth it.
If you haven’t previously baked your jackets in the oven from the start, then do. Obviously it’s better to do this when you are already cooking something in the oven, otherwise it is a bit of a waste of electricity, but the fluffy potato and crispy skins do make it worth the effort. I just score the skin with a knife and then bake them for around an hour. No need for oil or seasoning on the skin in my view.
In the past I have made mashed potato to have with the haggis, but alongside the mashed swede it does tend to seem like a big plate of (tasty) baby food … jacket potatoes add some substance and something to chew – I recommend them.
Finally the neeps – apparently that’s swede to us southerners, and turnips up north of the border. But they are the same thing … anyway, I boil the swede and mash it with some salt and pepper – no butter.
Apparently you are supposed to serve the haggis with whisky, but that stuff truly is the devil’s drink and I can’t stomach it (I haven’t even had a bad whisky experience which has put me off – I just can’t get over the feeling that I am drinking petrol when I sip it). So, a glass of squash each did us!
Here’s Robert Burns’ Address to Haggis if you really want to go the whole hog (did we? Er, No!).
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 worthy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.
His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?
Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.
Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis