In Scotland, every January 25, they celebrate the birthday of their national poet, Robbie Burns Day! A special pudding is served called Haggis which has been cooked inside a sheep’s stomach.
How would you like to get a pudding that has been cooked in a sheep’s stomach? Ugh! You say. Actually it’s considered a tasty treat among the Scots. You’ll certainly have a chance to try some if you ever get the opportunity to go to a party to celebrate the birthday of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet. Every January 25, many people in Scotland celebrate this event in a rather befitting way.
Among Burn’s many poems is one called “To a Haggis,” in which he describes the dish as that “Great chieftain O’ the puddin’-race.” Naturally, haggis must be served at the party. Haggis tastes slightly like hash. It is made from the heart, liver and lungs of a sheep. These organs are finely chopped and mixed with toasted oatmeal, onions, and seasonings. Then everything is boiled in a bag made from the sheep’s stomach.
While the haggis is ready to be served, a man marches into the dining room playing a bagpipe. Behind him comes another man, elegantly carrying the haggis on a tray. The appearance of the famed pudding causes the crowd to cheer. Another distinct day for serving haggis is on November 30,Saint Andrew’s Day. Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland.
Every Burns Dinner has its own unique style and the individual tastes of your quest will determine the makeup of your feast. The host or some of the guest may read some Burns poems and tell stories, even true ghost stories. Some may enjoy giving a toast after the whisky is served.
Burns is best known among all of the Scottish poets. He is most admired for having spoken the manner of the common person and for his native lyrical understanding. His poems celebrate the natural love between a man and woman, the enjoyment of sociable drinking and the pride of the self-reliant man and woman.
In the last quarter of the 18th century, Burns combined the romantic tradition of poets such as James Thompson and William Shenstone with the Scottish native custom of Robert Fergusson and Allan Ramsay to provide some of the finest lyrics known to English literature.
Robert “Robbie” Burns was born on January 25, 1759 into the family of a peasant farmer in southwest Scotland. Burns himself took up farming at a young age and having no success; he began writing poems for local circulation. Soon, he had them published in a book in the small town of Kilmarnock. Copies of the Kilmarnock edition reached Edinburgh and the intellectuals there were impressed right away. Most of Burn’s poems were short, lyrical pieces but they became an instant hit.
When planning to celebrate the birthday of Robert Burns on January 25 below are some traditional dishes that you’ll need to serve:
After you have removed the heart, liver and lungs from the sheep you’ll need to parboil them for a few minutes then pour the water out and get some fresh. Continue boiling for another half-hour and remove the heart and continue cooking the liver until it will grate easily. Trim away all skin from heart, cut liver in half (set back the other half for later).
Mince together liver, heart and lungs and add a pound of beef suet. Take the other half of liver and grate. Add chopped onions, some dry toasted oatmeal (cook in oven until it’s a light brown color). Add two teaspoonfuls of meal and spread the mince on a board and scatter the meal lightly over it with a generous seasoning of salt, pepper, a little cayenne and marjoram, well mixed.
Have a clean sheep’s stomach waiting, stuff with meat and about half-pint of beef gravy. You have to allow the meat room to swell so be sure not to fill the bag too full. Press out the air with your hands and sew up the bag. When it first swells up in the pot go ahead and prick it with a large needle to prevent it from erupting. Let it cook slowly for three hours.
RECIPE FOR BAGLESS HAGGIS
1/2 lb. Beef liver
3/4 lb. Lamb shoulder
2 lamb kidneys
1/4 lb. Beef suet
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup stock
2 onions, chopped
sald & pepper
*Boil all meat for about an hour. Let cool and grate liver. Chop up rest of meat & suet. Toast oatmeal in oven, shaking occasionally. Mix meats, onions, oatmeal and suet together with a cup of stock in which liver and meats cooked. Add salt and a generous amount of pepper. Put into greased bowl or small pan. Cover with two layers of foil and steam on a rack in a pan of boiling water for approximately 2 hours. Serves 6.
Peel and cut turnips into quarters. Boil until tender. Add butter and mash well, adding salt & pepper.
Peel and cut potatoes into quarters. Boil, cook until tender. Add butter, milk, salt & pepper and whip until smooth.
With a little planning ahead anyone can enjoy a Burns Night holiday. One only needs a home or hotel to gather good friends, an abundance of haggis and neeps to go around the table, a master of ceremonies, and several bottles of good Scotch to drink. It’ll be a night of sheer enjoyment listening to poems and storytelling along with lots of good food to eat: a fine way to do honor to a well-remembered poet of Scotland.