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How to host a Burns Night supper

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Ramona Andrews Ramona Andrews | 13:51 UK time, Friday, 21 January 2011

It's Burns Night on Tuesday and the perfect opportunity to cook some traditional Scottish recipes. The night is in honour of the poet Robert Burns and includes the reciting of Burns' poetry, with an ode to the offal-packed haggis: "Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!" Many Scots admit having to swot up on the running order before a Burns Night supper, however if you can't remember all the key verses of the night, there's now an iPhone app to recall Burns' poetry, launched last week.

Haggis with neeps and tatties

Most people know that haggis is invariably on the menu for the event, served with 'neeps 'n' tatties' (mashed swede and potatoes) and (at least) a wee dram of whisky. You might wish to make your own haggis with this authentic recipe - but if you've been making it for years, tell us your family recipe. The Hairy Bikers like to serve haggis with clapshot ('neeps 'n' tatties') and a creamy whisky sauce. But if sheep’s liver, lungs and heart are not your thing - despite being such recession-proof ingredients - there are all kinds of vegetarian alternatives you can buy made with pulses and nuts; or you could make your own veggie haggis.

As for the rest of the menu, start with Scotch broth, potato soup or cock-a-leekie soup and then wash it all down with a whisky cocktail and a bowl of cranachan or a slice of shortbread. If you've got any haggis left the next day, you could try this haggis-in-the-hole recipe.

So tell us, do you celebrate Burns Night? If so, are you making your own haggis or buying it in? Does anyone have a good version of vegetarian haggis to share?

Ramona Andrews is the host of the BBC Food Q&A blog and messageboard.



  • Comment number 1.

    We do celebrate Burn's Night in Northumberland but I've never gone as far as making my own haggis. No need really: the butcher's across the road from me make their own and it is very, very nice!

  • Comment number 2.

    As ever there's been plenty of discussion on the messageboard about Burns Night suppers. Do tell us what you're planning.

    TexasTitch: We don't celebrate Burns Night, but they certainly do in Dallas. I wonder what their haggis made from "Texas beef from Lewisville" is like!

    MrsWWoof: We'll have a proper haggis Burns Night celebration on Tuesday. However, tonight we are at a family Burns Night Dinner. Some form of haggis dish for a starter, followed by roast saddle of venison (currently sitting in my kitchen smothered in crushed juniper berries/black pepper, wrapped in streaky bacon) and roast veggies. Dessert I think is going to be a form of cranachan. Should both be good nights - tonight's variation and Tuesday's traditional. Happy Burns Night to all who will be celebrating.

    Vulnerable Bede: I would be very happy to tell you of my desserts that I was planning. It would take the form of a sampling plate of 'micro' puddings. Mini (light tempura battered) deepfried 'fun size' Mars Bars (a Scottish institution). Cloutie Pain Perdu with whisky and stem ginger ice cream. Tarte Tartan - the inverted apple tart with raspberries included with butterscotch sauce.... The raspberries I had stored in my freezer will now be used in my cranachan and Glayva ice cream as my faint contribution. All attendees must wear tartan and Mrs Bede's best friend, Diane, plays her bag pipes (briefly) and Mark, this year's host always addresses the 'beastie' and stabs it...deed! I claim Scottish ancestorage as my mother said I was conceived in Scotland and Rabbie Burns' daughter married a soldier from Sunderland, my home town. Tenuous I know, but I'll clutch at anything to enjoy my haggis and wear a skirt... commando as a must!

    ChefMelanie: I think on Burn's Night as a starter you should always have cullen skink. My boyfriend makes the best cullen skink in the world it is just heaven! Oh also for pudding, Cranachen is lush. It's like whipped cream with raspberries, toasted oats, honey and whisky.

    Judimac: Please don't forget the single malt for the toast.

  • Comment number 3.

    We had our Burns night party on Saturday all went well as I made a haggis and black pudding lasagna. It went down really well also done my normal haggis with neeps and tatties, I cook my haggis in a rich gravy in the oven just seems to draw the spices out. Cranachen is always served, however, I think Tuesday I'll make something light as the food from Saturday is still hugging me from the inside and sitting on my hips.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Whilst, unfortunately, I will not be able to celebrate Burns Night I would recommend you listen to Noel Alexander's rendition of Burns love poem Red Red Rose.

    In my view it is beautifully produced and performed and created the perfect present for the lady in my life.

    You'll find it Itunes

  • Comment number 6.

    Wow an iPhone app! I thought my total incompetence to do anything would prevent me from having Burn's night...but now I've got an app for it!

    Ah well, off to the shops to buy a vegetarian haggis and some tartan paint....

  • Comment number 7.

    Oh dear - where do the BBC contributors get their information these days?
    - haggis certainly must be eaten with "tatties and neeps" - I was originally instructed by knowledgeable natives whilst I was working in
    Paisley MANY years ago - but "neeps" were ALWAYS white TURNIPS - Never
    swede - that was what "ignorant" Sassenachs (their words - not mine) would use.

  • Comment number 8.

    I hate to tell you Bob Pitney but neeps are turnips which are called Swedes south of the border and NOT white turnips. Neeps must be orange when cooked.

  • Comment number 9.

    Yeah, Bob, I'm afraid Grant's right. Swedes are neeps and turnips are white. Confusing, but that's how it is.

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm planning a Burns Night for 12 people this Saturday, being the traditional Scot we're having Scottish Smoked Salmon, Cock a Leekie Soup, Haggie neeps & tatties, followed by Cranachan. Heaven! However, I would like to be more adventerous and stack the Haggis, neeps & tatties on top of each other. Any thoughts on how best to do this ie while its warm or can you prepare in advance, if so how to keep the food warm in the oven without drying out the ingrediants. Got the idea from the hotel we stayed in at New Year, looked great on the plate....


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