Celebrating British Food & Cooking
Burns night on the 25th of January in Scotland would not be complete without a plate of haggis, neeps and tatties and a side of whiskey sauce.
The meal starts with a bowl of Cullen skink, then the haggis and for dessert some clootie pudding with clotted cream or custard. I must admit even I had to look up the clootie pudding!
The starter is a comforting soup made with smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. It originates from the town of Cullen in Moray, North East Scotland.
It is then traditional for the main course of haggis to be formally presented to the diners by being led into the room by a piper playing the bagpipes. The Chieftain then gives the address to the haggis citing poetry from the national poet of Scotland, Robert Burns.
For those not familiar, traditional haggis is made from offal, namely the heart, lungs and liver, usually lambs, mixed with suet and oatmeal and stuffed into a cows appendix known as an ox bung. Nowadays they use sausage casing.
It has been illegal since 2017 in both the US and Europe to include an animals lungs in food products for sale because of the risk of contamination. However there is nothing to stop an enterprising cook getting the necessary ingredients from a friendly butcher and making it themselves.
Personally I buy mine ready made (no lungs) from my friendly butcher usually with a brace of prepared pheasants (they are in season) for the freezer.
Neeps, Tatties and Clapshot
On Burn’s night the haggis is served with neeps (mashed swedish turnip) and tatties (mashed potato). For an exciting alternative you can serve it with clapshot. Don’t get too excited though, it’s the same swedish turnip and potatoes just mashed together with cream and chives.
For dessert there is Clootie pudding, a classic Scottish steamed pudding. Try it with some clotted cream and a dram of whiskey. The whiskey should be the good stuff, a single malt, not a blend.
I like to sample the whiskey in advance to make sure its ok, sometimes twice.
Haggis, Neeps and Tatties with Whiskey Sauce
- 500 g haggis
For the tatties
- 1.5 kg floury potatoes such as Maris Piper or King Edward, peeled and cut into even chunks
- 100 ml semi-skimmed milk
- 200 ml cream
- 2 tbsp butter
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the neeps
- 1 kg swede peeled and cut into even chunks
- 2 tbsp butter
For the whisky cream sauce
- 4 tbsp cracked black pepper
- 50 g butter
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 2 shallots peeled and finely chopped
- 120 ml Scotch whisky
- 200 ml beef stock
- 200 ml double cream
- Cook the haggis according to the packet instructions.
- Meanwhile make the tatties. Cook the potatoes in a saucepan of salted boiling water for about 12–15 minutes until the chunks are soft and tender. Drain in a colander and allow to cool for 5 minutes to get a little fluffy on the outside. Mash the potatoes using a ricer. Heat the milk and cream in a saucepan until just simmering, then add to the mash with the butter. Season and mix until you have a smooth, creamy mash.
- To make the neeps, cook the swede in a saucepan of salted boiling water for about 12–15 minutes until the chunks are soft and tender. Drain in a colander. Add the butter and mash until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- To make the sauce, toast the pepper in a dry frying pan and set aside. Melt the butter and oil in the pan and add the shallots. Fry until fragrant and soft, but not browned. Pour in the whisky, turn up the heat and simmer for a second. Add the beef stock, then the cream. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for around 10 minutes or until reduced by about half. Stir in the cracked pepper.
- Serve the haggis, neeps and tatties with the whisky sauce on the side.