1. The Star Turn
First and foremost is the haggis of course. In his poem ‘To a Haggis’ Burns turned this humble dish into a world icon. It was the focal point of the first Burns Supper and continues to be the star attraction. Our haggis is available from all the big supermarkets, as well as local butchers’ shops and independent retails, and online here.
2. Get creative with your cooking
Whist Haggis, neeps and tatties is the holy trinity of a Burns Supper, we have some great alternative recipe ideas. So whether you want party pleasing canapés, a family favourite with a haggis twist or a swift snack, we have plenty of inspiration.
3. Know your neep from your swede
If you do choose to cook the traditional accompaniments then you need to get to grips with the veg! In Scotland a turnip is a large purple and pale orange coloured globe, whereas in England the vegetable with the same name is much smaller and white and green in colour. And therein lies so much confusion. When we talk about the ‘neeps’ we mean the larger purple and pale orange coloured ones, known in Scotland as turnips and in England as swede.
4. Go gourmet with our Special Edition Range
5. Serenade your haggis
The most popular poems to use on Burns night can be downloaded from our website.
6. Watch the experts
On our You Tube channel you can watch James Macsween do his cracking performance of the address, as well as cooking advice from Jo and our resident chef Colin.
7. Cater for Veggies
Macsween were the first to originate the vegetarian haggis in 1984. The spicy, oaty wonder was created by John Macsween, Jo and James’ father, for the opening of the Scottish Poetry Library, but due to popular demand became a permanent fixture.
8. Haggis shaped gossip
9. Save the whisky for after dinner
The combination of whisky and haggis is a bit like an old married couple; everyone assumes it is a match made in heaven, but we think the wonderful flavours of each should be allowed to shine separately. And as for the dubious habit of pouring neat whisky over haggis, we can only assume that has been a necessity when faced with extremely inferior haggis!
Without sounding unpatriotic – we suggest that haggis should have a fling or two with a pint of beer. One could safely speculate that Robert Burns could have enjoyed an ale of some sort with haggis when he ate it. It is higher alcohol beers that work best to match the spicy character of haggis rather than a light lager or blond type beer.
In regards to red wines South African and Italian wines seem to have the right acidity and levels of tannin to work harmoniously with haggis as the juicy sharpness of red wine can often bring out the best in the haggis. A particular red grape that works well is Barbera. The biggest white wine success is Gewürztraminer from Alsace – the spiciness of this type of wine really complements the unique flavours of haggis.
While the 25th January is an important date, don’t forget that haggis is a wonderfully flexible dish and can be eaten on any day of the year. Visit our recipe pages to find a multitude of recipe ideas.