Burns Night Recipes
Friday, 23 January 2015

Burns Night Recipes

Jo Macsween is a haggis aficionado and the driving force behind the evolution of Macsween of Edinburgh into a national brand synonymous with haggis-making excellence.

Written by Jo Macsween

Perfect neeps and tatties

Neeps and tatties are the classic partners to haggis and are, almost without exception, what you would be served at a Burns Supper. Neeps are a rather underrated root vegetable and deserved to be savoured more than once a year.

A Scot and an Englishman walk into a shop to buy some turnips. The Scot picks up a large purple and pale orange-coloured globe, while his southern friend selects a much smaller white-and-green vegetable. And therein lies so much confusion that means even supermarkets don't know how to label these vegetables without incurring the rage of some of their consumers. When I talk about 'neeps', I mean the large purple and orange coloured ones, known in Scotland as turnips and in England as swede.

Whatever name you choose, neeps and tatties go brilliantly with haggis. The secret of success is to cook and drain them properly to avoid a watery puddle on your plate. And just in case you don't know, 'tatties' are potatoes! So now that we have all that sorted, here's how to cook them.

Serves 4
1kg turnips
1 large carrot
1kg Maris Piper potatoes (or another good mashing variety)
100–150ml milk, warmed in the microwave (the amount needed will vary according to how floury your potatoes are)
80g butter (you may need more if you like it really buttery!)
Salt and pepper to taste

First, prepare the vegetables by peeling the potatoes and turnips. Dice the turnips and carrot into 1cm cubes and cut the potatoes in half, or into quarters if large. Place the prepared potatoes in a pan of cold, salted water. You will
need a separate pan of cold, salted water for cooking the turnips and carrot.

Bring both pans of vegetables to the boil, then reduce the heat a bit and simmer for about 20–25 minutes until they are soft. Test the vegetables with a sharp knife before draining, especially the turnips, as they need to be nice and soft in order to mash properly. Once the vegetables are cooked, drain them separately and allow all the steam and moisture to evaporate. This will ensure creamy potatoes and turnips that are not watery.

To the potatoes, add the butter, some of the hot milk, salt and pepper and mash well. How much of these ingredients to use is to a large degree a matter of personal taste, so add a little at a time until you have creamy, lump-free mashed potatoes. To mash the turnips, add some butter, salt and pepper to taste. Turnips are really tasty with butter and black pepper, so don't skimp on these. Give the turnips and carrot a good mash, but I recommend that you retain a bit more texture, so don't mash until creamy. This allows for a good contrast to the smoother, creamier texture of the potatoes in the finished result.

Keep the mashed vegetables warm while you fetch the hot haggis to serve alongside. Don't forget to heat the plates too!

If you have any mashed vegetables left over after the meal, they are lovely refried (mixed together) with haggis for breakfast the next day. Alternatively, try making potato scones.

Haggis nachos

What do you get if you spend a weekend in Orkney with a friend who loves haggis and chillies and is completely obsessed with Texan swing music? This is the happy result of spending time with the polymath that is Duncan McLean.

Serves 1–2 (I could very easily trough these all on my ownsome!)
130g packet 'microwave in 60 seconds' traditional haggis
large bag of tortilla chips
tub of guacamole
jar of salsa
tub of sour cream
fresh coriander

Optional extras to consider:
Jalapeño peppers, fresh chillies, grated cheddar

Heat the haggis in the microwave according to the instructions on the pack. Pour the tortilla chips onto a large plate. Dollop generous spoonfuls of guacamole and salsa over the chips and add a few jalapeño peppers if desired.

Once the haggis is piping hot, dot spoonfuls onto the top of the nachos, adding a few spoonfuls of sour cream and roughly chopped coriander to finish. Eat immediately (with beer).

Hot baked tattie

I really do think it's worth the wait to bake your tattie in the oven and not to express-cook it in the microwave. Your patience will be rewarded with a lovely crispy skin and fluffy mass of potato inside. If you are cold and feeling sorry for yourself, this will hug and heat you from inside like nothing else.

Serves 1
1 large baking potato
130g packet 'microwave in 60 seconds' haggis
coarse sea salt

Optional extras
Baked beans
Grated cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

Hot oven: 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

Give your potato a good wash and while it is still damp rub some sea salt on the outside. Prick the skin all over and bake directly on the bars of your oven shelves.

If you want to hurry it up, you could stick a metal skewer through the middle of it to help the heat penetrate faster. Bake for at least an hour – 1¼ hours is better. The time depends on the size of the potato of course! An indication of the potato's readiness is that the outer skin will give when you apply some pressure, and if you poke a skewer into the centre, you should feel no resistance. Towards the end of the cooking time, heat the haggis in the microwave.

Cut open the potato and mash in some butter and then the hot haggis.

For a deluxe version, add hot baked beans, grated cheese and freshly ground black pepper as the finishing touch.

The Macsween Haggis Bible, £4.99: amazon.co.uk, foyles.co.uk and select Waterstones

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