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The 25 January brings Burns Night, a celebration of the life of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet. The first Burns Night supper was organised by his friends after his death in 1796, and the tradition has continued to this day.
And be it a smart, formal affair or a more relaxed gathering of family and friends – the star of any Burns Supper is the Haggis.
In his poem ‘To a Haggis’, Burns turned this most humble of dishes into a world icon – but what exactly is haggis?
If you have ever asked “what is haggis?” the chances are you were given a very short list of the parts of a sheep that don’t actually go into Scotland’s national dish, perhaps in an attempt to convince you that only Scots are man enough to eat it! Or you may have even been spun a yarn about ‘plump wee beasties running around the tops of Scottish hillsides.
Neither of these responses is correct – and if you’ve decided you don’t like it without trying it, you’re missing out on a very tasty treat.
So, what is Haggis really?
The origins of haggis are somewhat mysterious, but the dish certainly dates back well before Robert Burns’ era.
Going back thousands of years, when the hunters returned with their kill, some of the meat could be salted or preserved, but some would need to be eaten straight away. The fresh, edible offal would be chopped and mixed with cereal and herbs and cooked over the fire in the ready-made container, the stomach. Hey presto – the first haggis!
Nowadays, however, you can buy pre-cooked haggis, such as the Award winning Macsween Haggis http://www.macsween.co.uk/ which is available from our butchers counter from the 20th January.
A Macsween Haggis contains lamb and beef that is cooked before being combined with a unique mix of oatmeal, onions, pepper and spices. This is then packed into a traditional casing, after which the whole thing is cooked once again, before being vacuum packed. Meaning you simply need to heat until piping hot, and then enjoy – with good company and perhaps with a tot of Whisky or two…
If you would like to be part of a traditional Burns Night supper, our neighbours at The Leconfield are hosting a special evening promised to be very memorable. Not only will you be welcomed by a traditional Scottish piper but your host for the event, Andrew Moffat will deliver the Selkirk Grace as well as the traditional address to the haggis.
Andrew is well know for hosting Burns Night dinners at the Scottish members club, The Caledonian Club in Belgravia, London as well as many other venues.
The 6 course dinner will be paired with a selection of wines as well as a traditional whisky “dram” served with the haggis. To download the menu click here. Tickets are available for advance purchase only.
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