Near the end of January 2016, one of the UK’s largest independent hotel groups, Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, will be hosting lively, traditional Burns Suppers in 45 hotels right across the UK, in celebration of the life and works of Robert Burns. This is believed to be one of the largest haggis-fests in the world and will incorporate one extra special event at Macdonald Aviemore Resort which will also host the Highland Premier of Robert Burns the Musical*.
Preparations are already underway at the Macdonald Compleat Angler, Marlow to be part of what may be the largest UK-wide celebration of the Ayrshire born poet’s life. Traditional fare of haggis, neeps and tatties will naturally be on the menu, alongside Highland venison and a rich, aromatic game stew. This is one evening for Macdonald Hotels & Resorts to revel in being a traditional Scottish host, so there will of course also be the chance to enjoy a dram or two along the way.
Keith Shearer, group executive chef said: “We are proud of Macdonald Hotels & Resorts’ Scottish heritage. Our aim on Burns Night is to create a dining experience that brings people together across the UK in celebration of one of Scotland’s foremost cultural icons. We’re always very particular about our menu and each and every element has been carefully selected from the best suppliers we can find.
“Really great haggis is genuinely delicious but if you are preparing it at home there are lots of ways to get it wrong. There’s no excuse for ever serving haggis soggy or dry so, if you can’t join Macdonald Hotels on the evening, here’s my suggestion of how to serve Scotland’s national dish on its most important night of the year. “
Take the taste home – Macdonald Hotels & Resorts’ Haggis, Neeps and Tatties
300 grams of haggis;
300 grams of mash potato;
300 grams of bashed turnips;
150 grams of butter unsalted;
50 ml of whisky;
100 ml of double cream;
100 ml of beef gravy;
50 ml of milk.
Peel and quarter the potatoes. Rinse in cold water. Bring to a gentle boil in salted water. Simmer until fully cooked. Drain into a colander and allow to steam dry. Pass the potato through a potato ricer or potato masher, add the butter and a splash of milk. Season to taste – then keep warm.
Now, peel the turnip and cut into 2cm dice. Bring to a gentle simmer until fully cooked. Drain into a colander and allow to steam dry. Pass the turnip through a potato ricer or potato masher, add the butter and milled black pepper to taste.
Next, bring the cream and gravy to the boil, then reduce to a pouring sauce consistency. Take care while you flame the whisky by pouring into a hot pan and exposing to open flame. Take off the heat and allow the alcohol to burn off then pour into the cream sauce. Mix well and check for seasoning.
Finally, steam the haggis until piping hot. Cut open and release from the skin. Shape into a large rugby ball form with two wet dessert spoons. Shape the mash potato & turnip in the same way.
Add the finishing touch by serving with the whisky sauce.
The easier way of course is to leave the cooking to the experts. All Macdonald hotels will be offering a Burns inspired menu throughout January. A selection of three main courses will be on offer to diners; traditional haggis, neeps and mashed tatties served with a whisky sauce; a game stew marinated in red wine, juniper and thyme; and seared Highland venison loin, with gamekeeper’s pie, glazed red cabbage and loganberry sauce.
Andrew Creese, Hotel Manager at Macdonald Compleat Angler, says: “Our Burns Suppers will be a celebration of some of the most wonderful elements of Scottish culture; poetry, friendship and, of course, food and drink. We’re proud of our Scottish roots and pleased to be able to offer our guests the chance to choose from a truly magnificent menu.”
Macdonald Hotels & Resorts is one of the UKs largest independent hotel groups and boasts almost 50 AA rosettes for its restaurants. All year long, menus are based around the finest seasonal ingredients, supported by a commitment to source the very best produce available.
By Keith Shearer, Head Chef at Macdonald Hotels