Aye Burns night - another great reason to celebrate in style by toasting the great Scottish poet Robert Burns while hosting a Burns Supper! (on or around the 25th January - the anniversary of his birth in Alloway in 1759).
It is thought the first Burns Supper was in Greenock in 1801, celebrated by a group of his merchant friends and it is now an annual tradition in Scotland and other countries with strong Scottish connections like NZ, Australia, Canada, the US - and (believe it or not!) Russia.
Here’s a guide to help make a successful and enjoyable Burns Supper.
Burns Supper Format
Start the night as you mean to go on by getting your guests in the mood with some Scottish music and a ‘wee dram’ or two! One of our favourites is Glen Kirk Single Malt Whisky from King’s Liquor and we also enjoy their McGregor’s Whisky Liqueur for later in the evening. At the end of the day, all Scotch whiskies are just fine to celebrate with, so choose one you like and go with it! Look out for some very special whisky evenings coming up soon with Scots in Spirit.
If you’re lucky enough to be friends with a pipe band and/or piper, this is definitely the time to call in a favour - or Spotify should do the trick for finding traditional and more modern Scottish music. If you thought bagpipes were only the domain of pipe bands – think again. Our favourite rock band goes by the name of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers – and these guys are sure to get Uncle Oliver off the couch!
Address to the Haggis
The Supper itself starts with the "piping in' of the haggis - it is carried in on a silver salver while a piper plays a suitable, rousing accompaniment, followed by a recitation of Burn‘s famous "Address to a Haggis" (includes poem & translation), and the theatrical cutting of the haggis with a beautiful ceremonial knife such as a Dirk or Sgian Dubh.
Toast to the Haggis
More whisky - after finishing the address, the host leads a toast by raising a glass of whisky and declaring “To the Haggis!” before serving the prized dish of Haggis to the guests.
Image Courtesy of the Scottish Herald
For the true die-hard Scots amongst us, making Haggis is part of everyday life, however, finding animal stomachs etc may not be your bag so finding a good supplier is the next best thing. Many Kiwis would argue that the best you can buy comes from Haggis Small Goods in Tauranga. Be sure to get your order in this week to avoid disappointment and keep their details for your next event. OR WIN some haggis and other Scottish delights here.
Okay, so some of you may not be huge fans of haggis - Haud yer wheesht!For those that prefer a modern take on this tasty tradition, we talked to some experts who think this recipe may fill the gap.
Top New Zealand chef, Phil Clark of Phil's Kitchen in Auckland sent us this wee recipe for you to try. Be sure to stay tuned for some more Scottish recipes and events that Phil will be helping us with in the near future.
Deep-Fried Haggis Balls with Mashed Swede & Whiskey Sauce
Take equal quantities of Haggis and good quality Pork sausage meat & combine.
Roll into balls – like you would meatballs
Dip in your favourite egg/breadcrumb mixture and set aside.
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil over a high heat, add diced turnip/swede and allow to cook until tender, about 12 minutes over a medium heat.
Drain and mash then add a good splash of cream and top-quality butter, salt and pepper. Add some chopped fresh chives or parsley if you wish and mix well. Keep warm.
Sauté some finely chopped shallots or onion in butter over medium heat until softened. Add a generous glug of your favourite whisky and reduce until syrupy, then add cream and reduce until thickened, season and add a squeeze of lemon, keep warm.
Deep fry the Haggis balls, drain on paper towels. Plate the mashed swede, followed by the Haggis balls and top with Whisky cream sauce.
Toast to the Lassies & Reply to the Laddies
After this is the “Toast to the Lassies”- a humorous view on women delivered by a man followed by the ladies’ response in “Reply to the Laddies”. You know how much fun this can be - right?!!
What to wear
Of course, having an opportunity to don your Clan tartan by way of a kilt, kilted skirt or trews is always welcome, however, not owning any of the above shouldn’t put you off attending or hosting an evening. If you’d like to hire a kilt for this or any other event, we would love to hear from you, likewise when the time comes to purchase that special piece – we are here to help.
Whisky, dancing, music – same as any decent Scottish get together! However, because Robert Burns is famous for his poetry, a Burns Night wouldn’t be complete without some lively recitals of Burns’ most-loved poems. You’ll find a selection of Burns’ classic poems and songs here in a Burns Night Toolkit. Fill up on food and whisky, then fill up on culture!
Finale song: Auld Lang Syne
Most people know Auld Lang Syne as the song that rings in the New Year, but this was originally a poem written by Robert Burns, which was later set to a folk tune. It’s the only way to end a traditional Burns supper with friends! Here’s my “Rocking Auld Lang Syne” version or a beautiful traditional version by the 'Pipers of the World’.
Burns Night To-Do Checklist – just for fun!
To celebrate Burns night and our love for all things Scottish, we have put together a ‘wee box’ of Scottish goodness for you to WIN! It will include Haggis, Whisky Liqueur, and of course a Hip Flask to ensure you can enjoy a dram anywhere!
To enter simply go to our Facebook page
“Lang may yer lum reek” and enjoy Burns Night!
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