Years ago, we attended a Burns dinner that an old friend of ours, Bill Dunlop, was performing at. Bill was an old Scotsman with a thick brogue. Decked out in his kilt, he recited Burns "Address to a Haggis". We lost Bill a few years ago but I will never forget that evening because of him. He taught me to waltz that night....no easy feat as I am about as stiff as a broom pole and lack basic coordination. He should have been given danger pay for that dance lesson. That night I fell in love with the pomp and circumstance that is all part of a Burns dinner....from the bagpipes, to the reading of Burns poetry. Unfortunately, our dinner didn't include bagpipes....no matter how much I have tried to convince my boys over the years that they should take up the pipes, they just won't....pity. It would have really set the scene! We did honour tradition by reciting Burns Grace at Kirkcudbright, also known as
The Selkirk Grace
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.
By candlelight we shared a few pints of Tennent's lager. I made Cock-a-Leekie soup for the appetizer, the traditional tatties and neeps (potatoes and turnip) with haggis drizzled with a whisky cream sauce for the main and Tipsy Laird (a Drambuie doused trifle) for dessert. My husband really enjoyed the meal....so much so, he wants me to host a Burns dinner for our friends next year. I think it is going to take a lot of convincing to get them to try haggis!
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups potatoes, peeled & diced in ¼ cubes
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 large sprigs of thyme
3 cups leeks, washed well & diced in ¾ inch
6 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
1 cup cooked chicken meat, diced
salt & pepper, to taste
In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté the garlic and onion in the vegetable oil until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the potatoes, carrots and celery and cook for 10 minutes. Pick the thyme leaves from sprigs and add to pot. Add the leeks and chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Stirring occasionally, skim and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the diced chicken and continue to simmer for 10 more minutes. Ladle into your nicest bowls and enjoy. Serves 6 to 8.