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.
Use an old battered pot and an old kitchen knife, not your 'posh frock' cooking tools!
If anyone wants Meg Dods's Haggis Royal recipe, or the one for deer haggis, let me know.
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:
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!
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!
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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