Things to look forward to in January – Awards season, restaurant offers, Chinese New Year (this year), 6 Nations (but not this year) and Burns Night! Not that I need The Bard’s permission, but tucking into a plate of haggis in honour of his birthday on the 25th is as good an excuse as any 🙂 I usually run in the opposite direction of anything involving offal, but haggis is the one shining exception. It is a wonderfully savoury eat, all spicy and peppery, and with that fantastic texture that manages to be crumbly without being dry. Can you tell I’m a fan…?
Of course, it has to be Macsween’s. I have the most wonderful butcher at the end of my street that does their own haggis, but I just can’t quite bring myself to be unfaithful to Macsween. So when I was challenged by @Eat_Scottish to get #InspiredbyBurns and put a new spin on the immortal trinity of haggis, neeps and tatties I was beyond delighted to find a Macsween’s haggis in the box of goodies they sent to inspire me!
But what to do with it?? Hubby and I spent a night brainstorming ‘things to do with haggis’ and came up with this! Or a variation of, elements of which didn’t survive the testing weekend (thank goodness for a testing weekend!)
I love haggis as a main course, either in a traditional style or as a part of something else like balmoral chicken, but I adore it as a starter with something sweet and sticky. Stac Polly on Dublin Street is to blame for that, their haggis parcels in filo pastry with a plum sauce is the stuff of legend. And The Magnum’s haggis spring rolls with Thai sweet chili sauce inspired me to try making them myself. So I knew I wanted to try my hand at a starter or something finger foody.
I have to say, the blini-esque tiny tattie scones were an inspired idea, and credit has to go to Hubby for coming up with (and cooking!) that. We actually made a giant tattie scone first time round and then took a cookie cutter to it, but the edges weren’t as clean or, most importantly, as crispy as when you cut first and then cook. It’s a wee bit more fiddly but well worth it. Alternatively, buy ready-made tattie scones and cookie cutter out what you need before warming them up.
We cheated a wee bit with the neeps by adding a few carrots for colour, but it contrasted nicely with the tattie scones and tasted good to boot.
The red onion marmalade you can make beforehand as it keeps for about 2 weeks covered properly in the fridge (or buy a jar of ready-made, there are some good ones out there) Our original idea was to actually top the haggis with it but it ended up hiding too much of the good stuff so we shifted it down a layer, but made sure to still show it off.
I’m afraid, though, that we didn’t keep a track of actual measurements so please excuse my somewhat vague recipe below. The only consolation I can offer is that whatever is leftover is scoffable in any combination of whatever is left – Hubby and I were merrily left downing tattie scones and red onion marmalade, hardship!
Which just leaves me to say…
“Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race!”
Stuff you’ll need:
Haggis (Macsween’s microwaveable haggis provides a good amount for making lots of these)
Cold mashed potatoes
Mashed neeps and carrots
Red onion marmalade (recipe here)
Chives, snipped for decoration
Salt and pepper for seasoning
To make the tattie scones:
This is all about mashed potatoes but firm mashed potatoes so don’t make it fluffy and creamy like you’re going to eat it, with lashings of butter and milk. You don’t want to add anything to the potatoes when you’re mashing them except seasoning and a little butter.
Once the mash is cold, mix with flour using a ratio of 5 parts mash to 1 part flour. Get stuck in with your hands and work it until it feels like a ball of dough – drizzle a little oil if it’s still crumbly to help bind it together. Divide into tennis ball sized amounts and chill for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Place the cold mash dough ball between two sheets of baking parchment or wax paper and roll out until it’s about the thickness of a pound coin. You want scones that are blini sized so use your smallest cookie/pastry cutter (or shot glass) to carefully cut out your scones.
Homemade tattie scones | fifigoesnom.com
Put a frying pan over a medium heat and add a little bit of oil. When hot, fry the scones for 4 minutes on each side.
Homemade tattie scones browning nicely | fifigoesnom.com
Excess dough can be rerolled , but store any dough you’re not using in the fridge between rolling as you want it to be chilled and firm when you’re ready to roll it out.
To make the neeps:
Aim for a 3:1 ratio of neeps to carrot. Peel and cube, then boil for 20-25 minutes or until a fork goes easily through a cube. Drain and roughly mash (the bits of carrot poking through look great I think!) with some butter, milk and salt, and pepper to taste.
Roughly mashed neeps and carrots | fifigoesnom.com
Cook the haggis according to the packet instructions and then break up in a bowl.
Grab a tattie scone and spoon/smear the mashed neeps and carrots on top. Take care not to overload it otherwise you’ll lose the taste of haggis, and make a mess when you’re trying to fit it in your mouth!
Add some red onion marmalade on top. It’s tempting to load this on but again you’ll risk losing the taste of haggis if you whack too much on.
Top with haggis and then sprinkle with snipped chives for a little colour.
I defy you not to eat your own body weight in these…
Inspired by Burns | fifigoesnom.com
Haggis, Neeps & Wee Tattie Scone Canapes with Red Onion Marmalade
A bite-sized take on the traditional Burns Night supper.
- Haggis (Macsween’s microwaveable haggis provides a good amount for making lots of these)
- Cold mashed potatoes
- Mashed neeps and carrots
- Red onion marmalade
- Chives, snipped for decoration
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
- This is all about mashed potatoes but firm mashed potatoes so don’t make it fluffy and creamy like you’re going to eat it, with lashings of butter and milk. You don’t want to add anything to the potatoes when you’re mashing them except seasoning and a little butter.
- Once the mash is cold, mix with flour using a ratio of 5 parts mash to 1 part flour. Get stuck in with your hands and work it until it feels like a ball of dough – drizzle a little oil if it’s still crumbly to help bind it together. Divide into tennis ball sized amounts and chill for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
- Place the cold mash dough ball between two sheets of baking parchment or wax paper and roll out until it’s about the thickness of a pound coin. You want scones that are blini sized so use your smallest cookie/pastry cutter (or shot glass) to carefully cut out your scones.
- Put a frying pan over a medium heat and add a little bit of oil. When hot, fry the scones for 4 minutes on each side.
- Excess dough can be rerolled , but store any dough you’re not using in the fridge between rolling as you want it to be chilled and firm when you’re ready to roll it out.
- Aim for a 3:1 ratio of neeps to carrot. Peel and cube, then boil for 20-25 minutes or until a fork goes easily through a cube. Drain and roughly mash (the bits of carrot poking through look great I think!) with some butter, milk and salt, and pepper to taste.
- Cook the haggis according to the packet instructions and then break up in a bowl.
- Grab a tattie scone and spoon/smear the mashed neeps and carrots on top. Take care not to overload it otherwise you’ll lose the taste of haggis, and make a mess when you’re trying to fit it in your mouth!
- Add some red onion marmalade on top. It’s tempting to load this on but again you’ll risk losing the taste of haggis if you whack too much on.
- Top with haggis and then sprinkle with snipped chives for a little colour.
Hubby and I do not need an excuse to break out the haggis and will happily devour it in most any of its incredibly versatile size shapes or forms. Not content with its traditional chums of neeps and tatties, I’ve tried it Chinese style in spring rolls, Indian style in samosas, Mexican style in quesedillas, poshed up in filo pastry parcels with a sweet plum sauce, deep fried out the chippie, not to mention as an unmissable part of a “full Scottish” breakfast fry up! I’ve even recently been sent a recipe for haggis lasagne which I’m very very intrigued by… (watch this space!). But on Burns Night it really has to be eaten traditional style, which means the ‘holy trinity’ of haggis, neeps and tatties.
So we couldn’t let Burns Night go by without honouring Rabbie with a plateful of the good stuff, and the good stuff is hands down Macsweens! Much easier to pop into the supermarket and buy one of theirs than chasing down one of the damn beasties in the wilds yourself 😉
I won’t lie and say that the ingredients aren’t a little offputting… In fact, I had quite the fight to get Hubby to try it at all but once he did he was quite smitten and probably has it more than me these days! And if you can eat a hot dog then you can eat haggis, and at least the offputting in haggis is quality offputting…
But once you get past what’s in it, it really is properly delicious. All peppery and spicy with an earthy and grainy and chewy texture that I’m really not doing justice to! Just trust me and try it, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised 🙂
Back to Burns Night 2013! Here’s the before picture…
Haggis, Neeps & Tatties | fifigoesnom
And here’s the after picture, with a requisite shot of whisky in the glass as well as in the cream sauce (delicious recipe courtesy of The Macsween Haggis Bible).
Haggis, Neeps & Tatties | fifigoesnom
And the after after picture 🙂 Haggis all gone…
Haggis, Neeps & Tatties, the empty plate version | fifigoesnom
And for desert, who could resist these cute “Babbie Haggies” jelly belly beans which, much as I love Scotland’s national dish, are only haggis coloured and not haggis flavoured!
Haggis, savoury and sweet | fifigoesnom
Happy Birthday, Rabbie!
Is it wrong that I love retro food quite as much as I do? I’ll happily feed friends my beef stroganoff and without a side of irony, or talk Hubby into picking up an M&S prawn cocktail on his way home (if Heston can eat them, so can I!). If there’s a Black Forest Gateau option for dessert then I can be usually persuaded to indulge my rare sweet tooth. And I’ve got my eye out for steak diane on a menu because it’s been forever since I’ve had one of those.
So it will come as no surprise that I have an irrational fondness for vol-au-vents. If there’s a plate of them on a buffet table I will make a beeline for them. And Christmas isn’t Christmas if I haven’t had at least one pack of M&S’s party food vol-au-vents.
I finally made them myself over Jubilee weekend, having scoured the interwebs for an appealing filling recipe I found this on Gourmet Traveller’s site, and thought the celebratory tone the champagne gives it would be perfect for a family get together. And they went down a treat! So much so that I didn’t eat nearly enough of them and promised Hubby I’d make them again “just for us”, which I finally did this weekend 🙂 I also seem to be having a love affair with tarragon at the moment so this killed two cravings with one dish!
The original recipe seems to be for small canape sized vol-au-vents, however, life is too short to make my own so I cheated and bought some ready to bake ones from Jus-Rol. They’re quite a bit bigger than bite sized, at least two-bite sized, so I’ve adapted my recipe accordingly.
Champagne Chicken Vol-Au-Vents
More retro indulgence! Puff pastry nibbles for parties or seriously posh TV snackage.
- 8 Jus-Rol vol-au-vent cases
- milk or lightly whisked egg for brushing pastry
- 2 sprigs of tarragon
- 2 tbsp thinly sliced tarragon leaves
- 1/2 small leek (40gm), white part only, thinly sliced
- 1 lemon, finely grated rind and juice
- 2 tbsp double cream
- 1 small chicken breast (about 250gm)
- 250 ml Champagne or sparkling white wine
- 125 ml water
- In a small saucepan, small enough to fit the chicken snugly and cover with the poaching liquor, combine the champagne, water, leek, lemon rind and tarrogon sprigs. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then add the chicken and return to the boil for 10 minutes (keep an eye on the pot as it will try to bubble over).
- After the 10 minutes, remove the pan from the heat, cover, and leave to cool completely while the chicken poaches through.
- Once the poaching liquor has cooled down, remove the chicken and finely shred it (fingers or two small forks are perfect) and refrigerate it until needed.
- Strain the poaching liquor only into a clean sauccepan (you can throw away the tarrogon sprigs and leeks) and bring to the boil again over a medium heat. Cook the poaching liquor down until it’s reduced to 50ml which should take 15 to 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it as it can cook down quickly – I kept pouring it into a measuring jug to check how much was left, then pouring it back into the pan and then back into the measuring jug, until I had my 50ml. Leave to cool completely.
- While the liquor is cooling, preheat the oven to 200C. Brush the vol-au-vent cases with a little milk or egg and cook per the package instructions.
- While the cases are cooking, combine the chicken, reduced cooking liquor, cream and sliced tarrogon in a bowl. Season to taste with lemon juice and sea salt.
- When the pastry cases are ready, divide the chicken filling among them and then return to the overn for 2-3 minutes, until the chicken is warmed through. Scatter with something green and decorative, and serve immediately with the remainder of your bottle of champagne!
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
I couldn’t let the Jubilee go by without making a comment, especially given how much of an emphasis there was on celebrating with food – or maybe that’s just a reflection of the media channels I focus on 😉 And I’m quite unashamed to admit that this weekend has left me feeling surprisingly patriotic, and waving my wee plastic flag that was hidden in a bouquet I bought last week to brighten up the mantlepiece…
But well as celebrating, and thanking, Her Maj for all the hard work she’s done, the extra day off was a lovely excuse to get together with family. Hubby and I put together a cheeky finger buffet (mostly during the 3 hour Jubilee concert which made for a great soundtrack to cook to!) and carried it all up to my parents’ place today, where we were joined by my brother, his wife, and their beautiful 3 week old son.
Hubby’s EPIC sausage rolls and my Champagne chicken and tarragon vol au vents deserve a blog post of their own, but for now, I managed to snap a quick pic of the whole spread before my family of locusts descended on everything (I really should have taken an “after” picture… LOL!)
~*~ fifi & Hubby’s Jubilee Menu ~*~
Coronation chicken finger sarnies (natch!)
Egg and cress finger sarnies
Sausage, caramelised onion cranberry chutney sausage rolls
Mini haggis spring rolls with sweet chilli sauce
Champagne chicken and tarrogan vol au vents
Pork and pickle pies
If you celebrated as well, I hope you had a marvellous time! Me, I’ll be eating plain boiled rice for the rest of the week to try and offset the damage done by today’s feast!