Sunday, 29 January 2012

Saturday - A good Scottish feast

I'm extremely proud of my heritage.  I was born and brought up in Edinburgh, and much of my family still live there.  I think it's one of the most beautiful cities in the world and there is nowhere quite like Scotland.  I'm also trying to fight against this impression that lots of people have (boosted by frequent media hysteria) that food in Scotland is terrible.  I get the jibes about deep fried mars bars, deep fried pizza and deep fried creme eggs (only at Easter, thanks) but believe it or not, that's not all Scotland has to offer.  Edinburgh has some of the best restaurants restaurants in the country - the highest concentration of Michelin starred eateries outside of London - and the produce is fantastic.  We have a bountiful supply of game, meats, fish, fruit and vegetables and to malign that is to be totally ignorant.  Rant over.

As part of my mission to open peoples' eyes to Scottish food, Joe persuaded me to cook a Burns supper whilst his mum was staying.  Neither she nor Dave Bro had ever tried haggis before, EVER!  So this was not an instance of preaching to the converted and I did feel a little under pressure to make sure they liked it. 

So issue number 1 - what haggis to get?  I thought automatically of Macsweens.  It's famous for being the best haggis, which may or may not be because it's also the most commonly supplied in England.  But that probably is for a reason: the Macsween family used to own a butcher's in Bruntsfield in Edinburgh and manufactured their own haggis.  The haggis became so popular that they closed the butcher's to concentrate on haggis production alone.  And lucky for us as far as I'm concerned. 

I did have a look at whether we should get a different haggis but given our time constraints (last minute planning as usual) it was Waitrose Macsweens to the rescue!

Traditional accompaniments are neeps and tatties (turnips, or swede to the English and potatoes), so both of these were automatically in.  I did my potatoes a little differently - baked in the oven and scooped out, mashed with cream and butter.  I also did some roasted chantenay carrots and a redcurrent gravy (which may be a little blasphemous with a Burns supper but ho hum!)

So food cooked, I persuaded Joe to address the haggis (first and last verse of the "Ode to the Haggis" only - it's about 25 verses long!) and we toasted with a little Dalmore whisky each.  And drum roll....they all loved the haggis!  It's rich, meaty and peppery, and roasted in the oven it falls apart like a dream.  The neeps are also peppery and a little bitter, and with creamy mash they come together perfectly.

Macsween haggis
Roasted chantenay carrots
Mashed swede
Haggis, neeps and tatties
Creamy mash
To follow, after quite a break, we had some traditional cranachan as well.  This is a traditional Scottish dessert made with whipped cream, honey, more whisky, toasted oats and raspberries.  I also threw in some toasted almonds for a slightly different texture.  The best trick with cranachan is to leave stirring in the oats to the last minute so they retain their crunch.  A tiny sprinkling of salt also brings out the flavour of the oats. 

After even more of a break, we also had some crowdie, a creamy Scottish cheese, to round off the meal.  Ok, it might have been a fairly rich meal, but it was full of amazing flavours, and I'd defy anyone not to enjoy it.
Crowdie and crackers - thanks to Haley in Clifford

1 comment:

Short Breaks Scotland said...

You've really had quite a feast. I agree with you that Scottish cuisine is being underestimated. There are wonderful Scottish dishes and restaurants, especially in Edinburgh! The Witchery is my favourite. I recommend it to everyone.