It's Burns Night on 25th January. For a wonderful twist on a traditional Burns Night supper, why not try Haggis Scotch Eggs? Victoria shares her delicious recipe for them alongside a venison steak in a whisky cream sauce. Rabbie Burns would be proud.
The time of year is on us again, when we dust off our kilts and pull the stopper out of the whisky bottle, to celebrate Scotland’s favourite son, Rabbie Burns. For the uninitiated, the traditions of Burns Night are delightfully drunken and eccentric. After the host makes a welcoming speech and declares the event open, everyone sits down to say the Selkirk Grace:
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.
After a traditional Scottish starter, usually something like Scotch broth or Cock-a-Leekie, the haggis is ceremoniously brought in to the dining room accompanied by a few tunes on the bagpipes. The Piping of the Haggis immediately precedes a recitation of Burns’ The Address To A Haggis, which is the most dramatic part of the ceremony. During the line, “His knife see rustic Labour dicht”, the speaker gets out a big knife and stabs the haggis open on the line, “An' cut you up wi' ready slicht”. But this isn’t the end of the night’s public speaking. Oh no. There’s the Immortal Memory, the Toast To The Lassies (and we all know how fond Burns was of the lassies), the Reply To The Toast To The Lassies, more recitations of Burns’ poetry, more toasts, more whisky until, finally, everyone stands (whisky levels permitting) and holds hands to sing Auld Lang Syne.
A typical evening down the local, Burns Night is not, but a belter of an evening it certainly promises to be. And if you wake up on the morning of the 26th with one of the chunkiest hangovers of the calendar, you can rest assured in the knowledge that you’ve done Robert Burns proud.
The traditional Burns Night meal is the straightforward, hearty and honest fare of haggis, neeps and tatties, washed down with enough whisky to power Scotland through to March. But, unless you’re planning to make your own haggis, there’s not much room to get very creative in the kitchen.
A playful twist on tradition is the haggis Scotch egg (not really “Scotch” at all, but who cares?). I’m making mine gluten free and with quail eggs, but by all means substitute the rice crumbs with panko and the GF sausagemeat for your favourite banger, if you wish.
But I’m not stopping there. I’m serving my haggis Scotch eggs with sliced venison steak and whisky cream sauce. If you’re planning to follow my lead, just make sure to stay light on the vegetable accompaniments - it is Burns Night after all.
Haggis Scotch quail eggs
9 quail eggs, but cook 12 - there are always breakages during peeling
60g gluten free sausagemeat (I took the casing off a Debbie & Andrew sausage)
2 tbsp rice flour
1 egg, beaten
A few tablespoons of rice crumbs or panko crumbs
Sunflower oil for deep frying
Boil the eggs for 90 seconds (or longer if you want hardboiled eggs) before removing from the pan with a slotted spoon and dropping them straight into a bowl of ice cubes and water. Once cold, peel them carefully under a running tap. It's a fiddly business, but it’s over soon enough. Have patience and push through the frustration.
Mix the haggis and sausagemeat together until fully combined. Flatten out a ball of the meat into a thin patty, place an egg in the middle and wrap it round the egg, carefully moulding into a sphere. Be careful not to squish the yolk out of the egg as you do this. Repeat with the remaining meat and eggs.
Prepare three bowls – one with the flour, one with the egg and one with the crumbs. First roll them in the flour, then the egg, then crumbs, before they go back in the egg ready for a final coating of crumbs. Once they’re all covered, pop them in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up before deep frying.
Heat a wide brimmed, heavy based pan with a good two to three inches of oil. Heat until the oil gets to 150°C or until a small piece of bread sizzles as soon as you drop it in. If the oil isn’t hot enough your Scotch eggs will be greasy, but if it’s too hot, the outsides will burn before the meat is cooked. Carefully place the eggs in the oil on a slotted spoon. Cook for 4-5 minutes, turning every now and then. Rice crumbs don’t brown as well as breadcrumbs, but they still have the crisp, crunchy texture you want from a Scotch egg’s crust. Drain on kitchen towel before serving.
Venison steak with whisky sauce
1 steak per person
Half a pint of fresh beef/venison stock
A wee dram or two of whisky
Salt and pepper
A slurp of double cream
I cooked my venison steaks with a sprig of thyme in the sous-vide at 56.6°C (for at least half an hour, but it’s almost impossible to overcook in the sous-vide, so don’t worry if you end up leaving them in for much longer). Pat them dry before flash frying them in a hot pan, slicing and serving.
You can, of course, just pan fry the steaks. Make sure you take them out of the fridge to come up to room temperature an hour before cooking and simply fry in a little oil or butter until cooked to your liking. Rest the meat before slicing.
To make the sauce, heat the stock with the whisky in a pan until reduced by half. Season and stir in the cream to heat through, just before serving.
Inspired and looking for more? Visit Great British Chefs collection of Burns Night recipes. Are you a fan of haggis? What other dishes would you recommend for a Burns Night party? Let us know over on Great British Chefs Facebook page.