Burn’s Night Supper

On the 25th of January every year, Scotts and their descendants around the world pay tribute to the life and works of Scottish poet Robert Burns via The Burns’ Supper.

Friends of Robert Burns started this annual memorial event a few years after his death, little knowing it would become the global tradition we know today.

The Burns’ Supper food.

Burns’ Supper food is really very basic, seasonal, inexpensive fare consisting of Haggis, neaps (turnip) and tatties (Potatoes), the latter of which are always served mashed.  (Haggis wi’ bashit neeps an’ champit tatties).

Whole Haggis on a Chopping Board

Great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race

The haggis, referred to by Burns himself as ‘great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race’ is basically sheep intestine stuffed with lamb heart / lung mixed with

beef or lamb meat, oatmeal, onion and spices.  This is widely available from your local butcher or supermarket pre cooked.  Vegetarian versions are also available.
A hearty Cullen Skink makes a good alternative for those who prefer fish.

The Haggis is served piping hot with mashed potato, turnip and a bit of gravy.

A fairly elaborate ceremony surrounds the presenting, cutting and serving of the haggis which at relatively formal events is usually carried ceremonially into the room on a silver platter accompanied by the chef, the person who will address the haggis, a whisky bearer and a piper.

Guests stand whilst the Haggis is then addressed with the recital of a poem by Robert Burns called ‘Address Tae the Haggis‘ and ceremonially cut open

Plate of Haggis Neeps and Tatties

Plate of Haggis Neeps and Tatties

before being served to those present.

Other traditional poems and verses are recited during this event.

Burn’s Supper Starters

Excellent starters for the Burn’s supper, would be a traditional home made soup, such as Cock-a-leekie or Scots Broth served with some sour dough bread.  Again, these are easy to buy and very inexpensive and easy to make.

Burn’s Supper Puddings (sweets)

The Scottish also have some puddings or sweets unique to the islands, so you could consider serving;

Cranachan (Crowdie Cream)
Clootie Dumpling – a suet/fruit pudding prepared in a linen cloth or (cloot)
Tipsy Laird – Scottish sherry trifle.
Cheeseboard with bannocks (oatcakes) tea and coffee.  There are plenty of wonderful Scottish cheeses to choose from.

Burns’ night drinks

The national drink of Scotland is Whisky and is undoubtedly the drink of choice for Burns’ night but Ales (Scottish ones of course) and medium to full bodied red wines will go well with the meat too.

Further information

Make your own HaggisBBC Good Food Haggis recipe

Cullen Skink  – A smoked Haddock chowder

Haggis Neeps and Tatties – Recipe for you Burn’s Night main course.

Cock a Leekie Soup recipe

Scotch Broth recipe

Cranachan recipe

Clootie Dumpling recipe

Tipsy Laird recipe

Scottish Cheeses – A list of Scottish cheeses and suppliers.