Burns Night: Fun with Offal

Missing the whole office thing where some team or committee celebrates every random event with balloons and displays (which makes my old office sound a wee bit like an elementary school), I’m well up for any excuse to celebrate with the kiddos at home. The boring end of January’s celebration? Celebrating the poetry of the great Robert Burns along with all it’s bagpiping (via You Tube) and offal eating. Robert Burns, for Americans reading this who have probably never heard of him, is a 18th century Scottish poet whose biggest international legacy must be as author of Auld Lang Syne. Having been to a Burns Supper (having used to worked for a certain Scottish bank who used to be in the habit of wining and dining clients a bit more), they seem to consist of lots of drunken poetry, haggis and whiskey. What more could my toddlers want?

I thought the microwave suggestion might be a step too far…

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To start with, I got my Macsween haggis off Ocado (for those of you who really want to know, it’s a sheep’s heart, liver & lungs, along with more palatable oatmeal and spices, encased traditionally in a stomach, but now more likely in sausage casing). I do love that the Macsween website says haggis for all occasions, like describing a handbag or pair of shoes. I’d like a night on the town haggis please. Anyhow, I just followed the instructions on the package, figuring they were as good as any, baking, wrapped in foil, with a bit of water in the tray, for an hour. It came out looking slightly worse than when it went in.

Yum!

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What to accompany this awesome beastie? The tradition is potatoes and neeps. The potato side I thought would be easy, but after a quick trip to the garage fridge, it turns out sweet potatoes were going to soon become Scottish traditional. To add insult to injury, I decided they needed maple syrup (sorry, maple syrup flavoured liquid). To be fair they were tasty, and very nearly covered up the flavour of the neeps.

Two ingredients in my ‘traditional Scottish mash’

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Now on to the more controversial, the neeps. According to some, these should actually be swedes. According to others, turnips are just fine. There seems to be variation from family to family, but if our experience is anything to go by, choose swedes. I’ve since read that the French only feed these to their pigs. Probably wise. Even with a Martha Stewart (um, that great Scot, you know) recipe which basically makes them into potato wedges, they tasted of pig swill. Do not try at home.

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Ill fated ingredients for my wedges: paprika, garlic, pepper, salt, olive oil. I didn’t add her parmesan, it seemed odd to go with sweet potatoes and haggis. Maybe that would have made it all better.

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And the results? Strangely Weasel loved it. Both kids chowed down on the mash and haggis. The Ninja found the haggis nice to eat since it’s all sort of ground up meat and oats, perfect for a molar-less toddler. For us, it was nice (minus the turnips and having to block out the fact that your eating pluck), but it’s got such a strong flavour that you’d want it in small quantities. I had some beef gravy as well to try to tone it down a little (what couldn’t be improved with a bit of gravy, right?). The leftovers did kind of make their way to the bin; we couldn’t face two meals in a row of it. Once a year is definitely enough for me.

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Proof, and almost with a smile!

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