Haggis, Neeps And Tatties by RyanStevenson
Haggis, Neeps And Tatties, a photo by RyanStevenson on Flickr.

Burns Night is a great reason to get yer kilt on! It’s a traditional meal that is held in honor of Scotland’s dearest poet: Robert Burns. Burns Night 2012 is on Wednesday, January 25 (the famous poet’s birthday), and it’s the perfect time to get out that can of haggis and indulge in a bit of merriment!

If you’re at all like me, you don’t have time to create an elaborate, six-course meal for twenty guests. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate Burns Night in style! Here are a few easy dishes that should make the greatest Scottish supper ever. But before you get out the pots and pans, you should know that there is a rather strict protocol that a Burns Supper should follow. Here is a guide for hosting an authentic Scottish party.

  • Pipe in the Guests. If you don’t happen to have bagpipes on hand, play some traditional Scottish tunes. Here’s a site that offers free Scottish music downloads. (I haven’t tried it out, so use your own discretion!)
  • After welcoming your guests (or telling your spouse to come in through the front door), it’s time for a welcome speech. This should be given by you, the host. Long or short, it should officially begin the good times!
  • Say the “Selkirk Grace” (it’s attributed to Robbie Burns, but actually predates him by quite a bit) and don’t fret about your accent:
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae let the Lord be thankit.
  • Stand to attention for the entrance of the haggis. This is a very solemn and poignant moment–who knows if you’ll survive the meal? Recipe the “Address to a Haggis” (find the words here), or play the video below. Be sure to cut into the haggis (beware the geyser of hot entrails!) just when you hear the line “His knife see Rustic-labour dight.” 
  • After you’re full to bursting on delicious food, it’s time for entertainment! Break the ice with some fun trivia questions, or some singing. Then launch into the “immortal memory”, a recitation of the life and accomplishments of Robert Burns. Make it funny or solemn–your choice.
  • Now it’s time for the toast to the lassies. This is where men get a chance to praise women and generally expound on their feelings toward the sex in general. Don’t get too carried away, though, the lassies get to reply with a toast of their own afterwards!
  • Close your little party with some poetic excerpts. You can find a collection of Burns’ poetry here:  www.robertburns.org.
Here is a menu for a traditional but easily-managed Burns Night Supper. Enjoy!

Smoked Salmon Chowder, a photo by foodfreak.de on Flickr
GoodFood‘s Smoked Salmon Chowder

  • a knob of butter
  • 1 onion , finely diced
  • 750g potatoes , diced
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 500ml milk
  • 350g smoked salmon , cut into ribbons
  • a handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon , halved
  1. Fry the onion gently in the butter, then add the potatoes, stock and milk and simmer until the potatoes are very tender.
  2. Add the smoked salmon and parsley and season well.
  3. Heat everything through and add a squeeze of lemon.
It is not easy to make your own haggis, which is why I would suggest purchasing it at your local British food market (you do have one, right?), ordering it online, or fudging it with this easy haggis recipe. If you really, really want to do it the old fashioned way (or just want to get the dope on Scotland’s dirty little secret), check out my post on haggis. Whatever you do, serve it with this easy whisky sauce!

You have to serve neeps n’ tatties with haggis. You could make them separately, but it’s easier together.

GoodFood‘s Neeps & Tatties


  • 8 large baking potatoes , washed, peel left on and cut into 2cm x 4cm chunks
  • 6 tbsp light olive oil or sunflower
  • 1 swede (turnip) weighing about 675g/11⁄2lb, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 50g butter , plus extra for serving
  1. The day before you want to serve, preheat the oven to fan oven 200C/conventional 220C/gas 7. Put the potatoes into a pan of lightly salted water, return to the boil and cook for 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes, put them back into the pan and place it back on the heat for a couple of minutes to dry out.
  2. Meanwhile, pour the oil into a large roasting tin (you may have to use two) and heat it in the oven until smoking hot. Now stir the potatoes into the hot oil and return to the oven to roast, turning occasionally, for 55 minutes.
  3. Cook the swede in boiling salted water for 50-55 minutes, or until very soft. Drain and add to the roasted potatoes. Roughly mash everything together, keeping quite chunky, then cool, cover and keep in a cool place.
  4. To serve, preheat the oven to fan 180C/conventional 200C/gas 6. Uncover the potatoes and swede, dot with the butter and put in the oven to reheat for 25-30 minutes, stirring now and again until piping hot. Serve with lots of butter.

Finish off your night of revelry with some delicious Scottish shortbread and raspberry cranachan!

Tim Pope‘s Raspberry Cranachan

Cranachan by T'iM
Cranachan, a photo by T’iM on Flickr.

  • Raspberries
  • Double cream
  • Whiskey
  • Honey or agave syrup
  • Oats
  • Demerara sugar
  1. Heat the oats and the sugar in a pan until toasted then set aside. 
  2. Whip the cream and add the whiskey and honey/syrup to taste. I like it with quite a whiskey taste but not too sweet. 
  3. Fold in 2/3 of your raspberries, save some good ones for the topping. 
  4. Put the remaining raspberries in the bottom of your glass with a little more whiskey, then fill the glass with the cream mixture. 
  5. Top with your remaining raspberries, then sprinkle over the toasted sugared oats to finish.


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Written by Abigail Young

I've had a passion for everything British my entire life, despite being raised as a small-town girl in the American Midwest, After years of dreaming, I got the chance to live and work in England for an entire year. Now I write about my favorite country, and hopefully inspire my fellow Britophiles to get over there and experience it for themselves.

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