Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.
No, I’m not Scottish (though in recent years, I think I’d rather be.) However since coming to London and encountering a variety of wonderful Scottish friends, I have discovered the wonders of Burns’ Night – a night (or day) to celebrate the wonderful work of poet Robert Burns. This year it actually falls exactly on his birthday – Saturday 25th January (coincidentally, Chinese New Year). Whisky will flow, pipers will pipe and the Haggis shall be addressed.
This particular serving of haggis finds it wrapped in a comforting little blanket of mustard lined filo pastry with a topping of swede and spinach. The pastry casing does a fabulous job of encasing all the lovely seasoned haggis juices, and in terms of tingling the multisensory responses the sound of the knife crunching through the shell is just heavenly. It also has the added bonus of slightly assuaging the doubts of those who have yet to be converted to the spicy deliciousness of haggis.
- Haggis – typically available in supermarkets around January, both meat and vegetarian.
- Swede (and optional carrots for extra sweetness)
- Filo pastry sheets
- Wholegrain Mustard
For the Whisky Gravy
- Beef/vegetable stock
- Scotch whisky
- Wholegrain Mustard
- Cook the haggis to the instructions – if you’re short on time don’t feel bad about microwaving it, it’s still delicious.
- Cut the swede into 3cm chunks and boil for 20 minutes or so until very soft. Drain, mash and season to taste with salt, pepper and perhaps a little sage.
- Lightly oil a round pie dish and lay in a sheet of filo. Rotate 90 degrees and lay another, then repeat two more times for a total of 4 layers of filo. This will provide a solid structural basis – important since the filling is rather soft.
- Brush over a little wholegrain mustard and then a 2-3cm layer of haggis. Spread over a further 1cm or two of swede. Top with spinach leaves, then begin pulling in the edges of the filo to form a nice lid. Pat down and brush with a beaten egg. Grind over a little pepper and bake at 170C for 15 minutes, until golden brown. Rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
5. To make the gravy melt 1tbsp butter in a saucepan, then add 1tbsp flour. Stir, cooking over a medium heat until brownish and smelling of pastry. Pour in a mug or so of stock and simmer. As it thickens pour in a splash of whisky and around 1tsp wholegrain mustard.