The first Burns Club was founded in Greenock in 1801 by a group of Ayrshire-born merchants, some of whom had personally known Burns. The group made the decision to honour the Bard on what they thought was the anniversary of his birthday on the 29th of January 1802. However, the following year they discovered in Ayr Parish Records that the true date was in fact the 25th of January. Since then, celebrations have taken place on, or around, the historic day of Robert Burns’ birth.
We wanted to know what everyone had planned for the Bard’s birthday and Maria let us know what she was planning.
I like to keep it traditional for everyone at St Leonard’s and help prepare the haggis, neeps, and tatties, but I have a wee steak pie. To celebrate the Bard’s birthday, we are planning a Burns Supper at the Centre with some Scottish music and a piece of tartan to be worn by all attending. I am going to be helping to get everything ready including peeling the tatties. We want to keep the tradition of the Burns Supper alive, and we encourage everyone to take part, even the wee timorous beastie. Why not have your own Burns Supper? Here is what you need for 4 people.
- 500g haggis
- 1kg potatoes, such as Maris Piper, cut into similar-sized pieces
- 100ml milk
- 150g unsalted butter
- 1 swede, peeled and diced
- 2 large carrots, diced
How to make it
Heat the haggis following pack instructions. When the haggis has 30 mins cooking time remaining, tip the potatoes into a large pan of generously salted cold water, then bring to the boil over a medium heat and cook for about 20 mins until very tender when pierced with a fork. Drain well and leave to steam-dry in the colander for 10 mins.
Add half the milk and two-thirds of the butter to the pan used to cook the potatoes. Warm over a low heat until the butter has melted, and the milk is just steaming. Remove from the heat and return the potatoes to a pan, then use a potato masher to mash everything together. Or pass the potatoes through a medium sieve into the pan in batches using the back of a spoon or ladle. (Using a sieve will give you a very fine, no-lump texture.) Season well with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cook the swede and carrots in a pan of boiling water for 18-20 mins until very tender when pierced with a fork. Drain well and leave to steam-dry in the colander for 10 mins. Return the vegetables to the pan along with the remaining milk and butter, then coarsely mash using a potato masher – you don’t want a smooth texture here. Season well. Serve the haggis with the neeps and tatties alongside.
If you are up for some more good old Scottish food, why not try and make your own Cranachan as a nice sweet treat to end your Burns Supper.
St Leonard’s Service