Today is the birthday of Robert Burns, the national poet of Scotland. Born in Alloway, Ayrshire, in 1759 to William Burness, a poor tenant farmer, and Agnes Broun, Robert Burns was the eldest of seven. He became a national celebrity and on the day of his burial more than 10,000 people came to watch and pay their respects. He is known in his own country as The Bard. It's traditional to celebrate his birthday with a supper, with formal addresses to the ladies, to whiskey, and to haggis.
Here's a poem, and a recipe:
Address to a Haggis
Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang's my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.
His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect sconner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?
Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit:
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.
Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!
1 deer or sheep paunch (stomach bag) plus the pluck (lights (lungs), liver and heart)
1 lb shredded beef suet, preferably kidney leaf fat
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 tbl. salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp Allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground mace
2 lb dry pin oatmeal
2-3 cups broth (in which the liver, heart and lights were cooked)
Canning kettle, 16 to 20 quart size with a lid to fit it
Soak the stomach bag in salted water overnight. Rinse thoroughly until the water stays pretty clear and handling it does not produce much sediment.
Place the pluck (lights, liver and heart) in the canning kettle with 3 to 4 cups water with the windpipe hanging over the edge draining into another receptacle, to remove impurities. Bring to a boil and simmer the lung, liver and heart until tender, about an hour and a half. Let it all cool, and keep the broth.
Remove the windpipe and any gristle or skin. Chop the meat extremely fine; grate the liver. Mix the meats with the spices, onions, suet.
Toast oatmeal gently in a skillet on top of the stove, stirring frequently, until golden brown and crisp. Add to meat, etc and mix thoroughly.
Add 2 cups of the broth left from boiling the meat. See if when you take a handful, it sticks together. If it does, do not add the third cup of broth. If it is still crumbly and will not hold together very well,
add another cup of the broth and mix thoroughly.
Turn stomach inside out for stuffing (smooth side out). Stuff with the mixture, about one half to three-quarters full. Sew up the bag tightly or secure each end with string. Wrap it in cheesecloth and prick it all over with a needle so that it does not burst.
Wash out the kettle and bring about 2 gallons of water to a boil in it. Put in the haggis. Boil the haggis gently for about 4 or 5 hours.
Cut open with a traditional 'sgian dubh' (black stocking knife) and serve with clapshot (see below) and small glasses of neat Scotch whiskey.
1 lb. potatoes
1 lb. white or yellow turnips
1 tbs. chopped chives
1 tbs. butter or dripping, heaped
salt and pepper to taste
sprinkle of mace or nutmeg if desired
Boil potatoes and turnips separately, drain.
Mash very well, adding all other ingredients.
If desired, add sprinkle of mace or nutmeg.
Season to taste, serve hot.