Ah, poetry. Lyrical, sentimental, filled with hearts and flowers, or an angry outcry of the writer's innermost frustration and rage. No such anger is found in the works of Robert Burns, considered to be the National Poet of Scotland and a pioneer of poetry's Romantic movement. Robert Burns was born on January 25, 1759. His birthday is celebrated both in his homeland and across the globe, paying homage to both the man and his many famous works, which include Afton Water, A Red, Red Rose and what we all sing at the stroke of midnight on New year's Eve, Auld Lang Syne. In addition to writing poetry, Burns also adapted Scottish folk music of the period. His musical adaptations are still performed today.
Robert Burns Night is celebrated with a Burns Dinner. The scotch flows and the poetry is recited; both before, during and after the meal. The menu could consist of a fancy salad as a first course, a carved beef tenderloin as an entree and any sumptuous dessert of your choosing. In other words, lovely fare that would appear at any celebration of note. But the one menu item that sets this celebration apart from all others is the inevitable serving of Haggas or Haggis; always there as a reminder of early, thrifty Scottish fare.
Haggas consists of the minced innards of a lamb or calf, seasoned with onions, suet and spices, mixed with oatmeal and then......rather than continue and ruin your appetites, use this link for a complete description. This revolting traditional food seems to always show up as an appetizer at Robert Burns dinners. There will not be a recipe for this at the end of this writing. Instead, we have chosen another early Scottish recipe for Bridies; a simple, hearty individual Scottish meat pastry, which has been copied and adapted from the official Robert Burns website.
There are a few shops in every geographic area which Scottish foods, but there isn't much variety available and, despite the reputation of foods from the U.K.being bland and tasteless, we know better. For a wonderful assortment of treats from across the Pond, we recommend a terrific online specialty store, The Scottish Grocer.
The Scottish Grocer offers a wide variety of fare; from authentic marmalades and jams, to Edinburgh Shortbread and Border Biscuits, as well as lovely mustards and relishes. There are sweets, such as Glenfiddich Whisky Cakes and Gardiner's Fudges and Toffees, as well as savories, such as Glenfiddich Mincemeat Tarts. The Scottish Grocer also carries Brodies Teas and Coffees and has dietary and gluten free selections. They make beautiful gift baskets, and United States shipping takes approximately 4 to 6 days. Oh, yes. If you must, they carry Haggas as well. Take a look at their website for all of their selections and ordering information.
And now, as promised, here is the official Robert Burns recipe for Bridies...
- 2 cups of flour
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/3 cup of butter
- 1/3 cup of shortening
- 5 to 6 tablespoons of ice water
- 1 beaten egg for use as an egg wash
Combine all of the ingredients using a pastry cutter until it becomes a soft dough. Refrigerate until the filling has been prepared and cooled to room temperature.
- 1 1/2 pounds of lean flank or round steak
- 4 teaspoons of butter or suet
- 1 onion, diced finely
- 1 carrot, diced finely
- salt and pepper to taste
Saute the vegetables in the butter or suet until soft. Slice the meat into very thin, long slices. Then cut the slices into 1" pieces. Combine with the vegetables, salt and pepper to taste and cook over low to medium heat until the meat is no longer pink. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Roll out the dough to between 1/8" and 1/4" in thickness. Cut into rounds, 4" to 5" in diameter. Arrange the filling on the top of the rounds and fold over, using the egg wash to secure the edges. Crimp the edges together. Cut a small slit on the top of each Bridie, brush the tops with the remaining egg wash and bake for approximately 30 minutes.
This recipe makes 10 to 12 small Bridies; simple, thrifty and delicious fare for an appetizer, finger food on game day or, with a crisp salad, a comforting lunch on a cold winter day. Enjoy.