Adventures, Food, Other

Burns Night, or, Any Excuse For Haggis

As you may remember, Lauren and I went to Edinburgh in November. We had a bloody lovely time, and it was a bit of an awakening for Lauren, who had never had haggis before, so had to try it for The Life Of Trying and ended up having it three times in two days (breakfast, breakfast, lunch).

Fast forward two months, and she decided she wanted to have a Burns Night Supper. She ordered haggis and two enormous swedes and a bottle of whisky and a healthy amount of cream, then went away for the weekend. I was perfectly happy to just turn up and eat her food, but then I got an email from VisitScotland, with an amazing Guide to Burns Night – take a look, it’s got some wonderful ideas, as well as a history of Burns Night, and all the speeches you could ever want, and it’s pretty, too. I sent it to Lauren, and the most important thing we took from it was Haggis Scotch Eggs. Oh yes.

Lauren and I have been vaguely planning to try making scotch eggs for months. We haven’t actually managed it, but we’ve thought about it, and that counts. We had a beautiful experience in Rye, buying homemade scotch eggs from the Mermaid Street Cafe, and going back to eat them – still warm – in the car. So I figured that this was the perfect opportunity to try it out. I also figured, as I had a free weekend, that I could try my hand at haggis sausage rolls.

The VisitScotland recipe uses a Three Bird Haggis and quails’ eggs, but those weren’t available in Sainsburys at Crystal Palace – I got the last non-vegetarian haggis in the shop as it was. Luckily, I remembered that Amy – who runs my favourite recipe blog, She Cooks, She Eats – has a recipe for mini scotch eggs, so I looked it up and changed my plan slightly. Amy’s recipe is for baked scotch eggs, which is both healthier and much easier if, like me, you don’t own a deep fat fryer and are slightly terrified of trying it in a saucepan. The recipe I found for haggis sausage rolls only used half a haggis, and the amount I would have left over was perfect for the scotch eggs.

It went incredibly well. Once I got my head around doing several things at once, due to limited oven and fridge space, and enlisting my dad to boil and peel the eggs, I was fine. I didn’t particularly enjoy crumbling up a haggis and ten sausages and smooshing them together with my hands – it is widely known that I don’t like to have dirty hands – but if I had thought ahead I could have just done this with some disposable gloves on (CSI gloves, as Nigella calls them in multiple books). The sausage rolls went very smoothly – I had bought a block of puff pastry, rather than the pre-rolled kind suggested in the recipe, but that turned out alright as I had a little more meat than the recipe, anyway. The scotch eggs were a little trickier – working out how much egg to put in each ball took a while to get right, the mixture was crumblier than just sausagemeat would’ve been, and I kind of ran out of breadcrumbs – but they turned out beautifully. I only had one disaster, when I cracked an egg straight into the food recycling bin.

Of course, I had to try them, just in case they were terrible. I was so eager to try a scotch egg that I burnt my mouth on one – I can confirm it was worth it. Everyone who’s had them really enjoyed them, and I’m looking forward to making them again for various other occasions.

The rest of the Burns Night Supper was lovely, too. We didn’t dress up, or have any bagpipes, and we completely forgot to address the haggis. But we had mash, and swede (which I put some butter in because it’s so much nicer, and we’re only allowed it as a treat at home), and Lauren made cranachan in wine glasses for pudding. We finished off with whisky and coke, and board games – Settlers Of Catan, and Downton Abbey Cleudo.

All in all, a good go at Burns Night, and a lovely way to spend a Monday evening.


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