Scottish Recipes!




References for haggis can be found as far back as 'The F'yting of Dunbar and Kennedy' of William Dunbar (?1460-1520?). It was well established by this time. People used to send it to their families in France at the time of the Auld Alliance, and there are references to this in various French documents, I read here and there.

First spend several years cultivating the best butcher you can find, who uses the best Scots or Welsh lamb. Mountain lamb is sweeter than lowland lamb.

Traditional But and Ben recipe:

1 sheep's pluck: liver, lights and heart
1 paunch - the large stomach bag
1/2 lb of fresh beef suet
1 breakfast cup of fine oatmeal (about half an imperial pint)
2 or three onions
salt and pepper
pinch of cayenne
1 breakfast cup of stock or thin gravy (i.e. not thickened, made with beef
or lamb juices, not packet gravy!)

Clean the paunch thoroughly: wash first in cold water, then scald well. Scrape thoroughly, and leave in salted water over night to soak.

Wash the pluck well, and put on to simmer; start in cold water. Hang the windpipe over the edge of the pot, and place a small bowl under it to catch the drips. Simmer for an hour and a half. Cool, then cut away all the tubes, gristle and slimy bits you don't want.

Mince the heart and lights and grate about half the liver (set the rest aside for another dish). Mince the onion and suet and add to the other ingredients. Toast the oatmeal very slowly while you are doing this in a warm oven. Mix all the ingredients together and season with salt, plenty of pepper and a pinch of cayenne. If the mixture is too dry, add a wee drop of the pluck bree to make it sappy.

Fill the paunch about 5/8 full - you need expansion room! Press out the air and sew the bag closed with fine cotton string and a kitchen needle. Prick it several times to stop it bursting when boiled.

Place in fast boiling water, then lower the heat to boil gently (a fast simmer!) for three hours without a lid. Keep a kettle of boiling water to hand to top it up. Serve very hot and without any garnish or gravy.  For a Burns supper it is traditional to serve it with 'nips & neeps' - nips of whisky and chappit neeps, and potatoes served either boiled in their skins and rolled in toasted oatmeal and butter, or mashed.

Chappit Neeps

Use an old battered pot and an old kitchen knife, not your 'posh frock' cooking tools!

1 large swede turnip - the big mild ones with the pale pumpkin coloured flesh: rutabagas are a fair substitute.


pepper and salt

Cut the neep into 1" cubes and boil gently in salted water until tender. Drain thoroughly and steam on the hot ring very gently until dry - but NOT sticking to the pot!

Use an old knife to chop the hot neeps in the pot until they are almost mashed: don't use a spud masher or any mechanical or electrical aids or the texture will be too smooth. Add a goodly dollop of butter, some salt and lots of freshly ground pepper.

If anyone wants Meg Dods's Haggis Royal recipe, or the one for deer haggis, let me know.

Black Bun

Strictly speaking, this is a Scots New Year Cake. It is so full of fruit that it needs a pastry jacket to hold it together, and as black as the inside of a cabinet minister! My Granny loved this, and if I gave her one as part of her Christmas present, she was sweet all year! Serve at Midnight as the years changes, with a glass of good sippin' whisky - my personal favourites being Talisker and Laphroaig.

For the pastry:
8 oz plain flour
pinch of salt
4 oz butter
an egg yolk to glaze

Make up your pastry and set aside to relax (in the fridge in a poly bag is good!). we use plain flour, butter and water for this as we do NOT want a fluffy pastry, and it needs to be kept a while. Butter pastry doesn't seem to go stale as quick as others, and retains a better flavour. And besides, it's TRADITIONAL! (So there!)

For the cake:
1 lb currants
1 lb raisins
2 oz candies chopped mixed peel
4 ox blanched almonds, chopped (slivered gives a less authentic texture)
4 oz plain flour
4 oz Muscavado sugar (un-refined dark brown)
1 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, ginger, allspice or cloves, and nutmeg
2 level teaspoons of cream of tartar
2 level teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
1 large egg, beaten
8 tablespoons of whisky
3 level tablespoons black treacle or molasses

Grease an 8"round cake tin, and line with the pastry, setting aside enough for the lid.

Mix all the dry cake ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix together the egg, whisky and treacle (it will look like crude oil!), and stir into the dry ingredients.

Spoon the cake mixture into the pastry lined tin, and level off smoothly. Fold a margin of pastry over the filling and put on the lid. Glaze the top with egg yolk. Stab a few holes down through the cake to let steam out as it cooks and bake in the oven set at gas mark4/350 F/180 C for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. When the pastry turns a rich golden brown, put a layer of foil over it to prevent it going too dark.

When done, turn out onto a rack to cool. Store in an airtight tin or wrapped in a layer of greaseproof paper and a layer of foil. It will keep for several months, even after you start eating it!

You need to make this a few weeks before use to give it time to mature.  It keeps for months!

Girdle Scones!

I tend to use self raising flour for these, but if all you have is plain flour, just add  a wee bit of baking powder to it!

You will also need a good Scots girdle.  This is a large round black iron plate, more than 1/3" thick, usually made of cast or wrought iron.  Very often you see them with a hoop handle for hanging over an open fire (my mother's is like this), but they can come with handles on either side, like ears (see the picture below).  Put it on a medium flame to heat while you make the scone mixture.

Give it a good dusting of flour.  When the flour smells cooked and has started to get a little colour, it's ready for the scones.

Some flour - about 3 rounded teacups will do nicely!

Thick cream 

A little sugar...  a couple of tablespoons will do, but if you like them sweeter, do them sweeter!

A pinch of salt

Plonk the flour in a bowl, add the sugar and the salt, and mix together.  Stir in enough cream to make a thick dough, softer than pastry, but firm enough to handle.

Heave it out onto a well floured surface, dust with a bit more flour, and pat it out into a rough round about 3/4" thick.  Cut into 8 wedges.

With a nice flexible palette knife, carefully place the cut scones on the girdle.  You should be able to do 3 at a time.  When they are risen and the bottom is cooked (about 4 - 5 minutes, but watch it! - turn them over and do the other side.  When cooked, knock off all the spare flour and wrap them loosely in a clean tea towel, on a plate, and keep warm in the oven.

Periodically you will have to scrape all the scorched flour off the girdle and dust it again.

Serve the scones warm and fresh with whipped cream and home made raspberry jam.  They will be just thick enough to split, but let the guests do this!

Scots pancakes

These are very like American pancakes, but tend to be served with tea rather than for breakfast!

I cook them on the girdle, like the scones, as you can see.

2 large eggs

Half a pint of milk

A pinch of salt

Sufficient flour to make the mixture as thick as good double (heavy) cream, or a tad thicker...

Mix all the ingredients together.  I cheat, and use a Tupperware 'Shake & Store', so I can just pour it out when I'm ready.  My Granny used a large round jug and a fork to whisk it together.  Choose your own weapon!  A jug is easier than a bowl, so you can pour dollops out the right size.  Once it's mixed, leave it to stand an hour, then stir again before use.

Heat up your girdle until a little butter on it froths a wee bit and sizzles gently.  Smear the surface with a very little butter, and pour out dollops of batter.  cook for about 4 minutes , or until just firm all the way through, and the bottom is gently toasted.  Flip over and cook the other side.

Every now and again, smear a little more butter on the girdle.  If the butter gets too brown, wipe it off and re-smear!  You may need to keep wiping the edge to avoid a pool of burnt butter collecting on the cooker top...

Again, you can stack them up in a clean tea towel and keep them warm in the oven.  Serve with either fresh unsalted butter and a drizzle of lemon, topped off with a sprinkle of sugar, or all in a heap with some fried mushrooms and bacon and a drizzle of maple syrup.  I love them like this!  Not very Scottish, but a good way to have pancakes as both main dish AND pudding on Shrove Tuesday!

My Granny had a beautiful girdle...  My grandfather made it for her.  He worked in the Fife Forge, and in the days when he was foreman of the Big Hammer, he made her this mighty girdle out of a 12" disk of half inch armour plating!  My mother still uses it, which is why I had to get one of my own.  The black colour is the result of 20 odd years of use and never washing it.  All I do is give it a rub over with some kitchen paper.  If something sticks to it, I put a pinch of salt on it before rubbing!

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