An Alternative Burns Night

Some twists on the traditional supper
By Seaneen Sullivan
Burns night falls every year on 25 January. The evening shines like a beacon of hope, merriment and frivolity at the end of a long, dark and dreary month. With the recent mania for Dry January, a Burns Supper is even more welcome as a respite from the austerity of the year's beginning. In my pub, L. Mulligan. Grocer, it is a night for be-sporraned gaity, tartan a plenty (clashing preferred) and increasingly raucous recitations of Burns' poetry, both the famous and the obscure. The supper itself is a very traditional affair. Cullen Skink to start, followed by house-made Haggis served with a dram of peated whisky served in a pipette to infuse the haggis with its smoky goodness, and cranachan to finish, alongside lashings of whisky. Each year the haggis is ceremoniously piped in by a local bagpiper, resplendent in full regalia, and each table is responsible for a verse of the famous Address to the Haggis, a task taken very seriously in some quarters. It is a very grand affair. On the main restaurant menu we are playful with the Scottish influence, serving haggis bonbons with a marmalade and whisky mayonnaise, 'Cullen Skink' Scotch egg, and rhubarb and raspberry shortcake, borrowing the flavours of the traditional cranachan but with a seasonal update.

Cullen Skink Scotch Egg


Heavy bottomed pot or a deep fat fryer


• 150g smoked white fish, (we use hake) skin removed

• 150g fresh white fish, (we use blossom or pollock) skin removed and pin-boned

• 6 chives, finely chopped

• 15ml wholegrain mustard

• Zest of one unwaxed lemon

4 free range eggs, soft boiled for 6.5 minutes, cooled in ice water and peeled

• 50ml milk

• 100g flour

• 150g Japanese panko breadcrumbs

• Salt and pepper

• Oil for frying


Bring a pot of water to the boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Gently poach unsmoked fish until white and opaque for about five minutes. Drain and allow to cool. Place smoked fish, unsmoked fish, chopped chives, mustard and lemon zest in a food processor and blitz until combined. Divide mix into four. Take one quarter of the mix and flatten in hand. It helps to have wet hands during this process. Place egg in centre and shape mix around the egg, tapering at the tip. Repeat with other eggs. Follow steps 2-3 of the haggis bonbon recipe for each egg. Leave aside in the fridge for half an hour or so, and then deep fry at 180C for 4 - 5 minutes. Slice in half and serve with charred lemon wedges and salad. We serve Old Pulteney alongside also.

Rhubarb & Raspberry Shortcake

There is a joyful day in late January when after months of nothing but rusty hued root vegetables and soil-laden tubers, the first luminous pink forced rhubarb is delivered. We use it to make cranachan laced with raspberries. It is a sad fact that rhubarb and raspberry, while delicious together are not at their best during the same season, so we preserve raspberries in a jam, for serving alongside the first perfect pink stalks of rhubarb. Each step can be done ahead, leaving just the assembly when guests arrive.

Serves 6



• 250ml cream

• 10g icing sugar

• 35.5ml fruity whisky (we use Glenkinchie)


• 100g butter

• 50g caster sugar

• 125g plain flour


• 400g forced rhubarb, trimmed and chopped into 4cm pieces

• 100g raspberry jam, warmed gently so it is liquid


• 60g pinhead oats

• 20g caster sugar


Cream: Whisk the cream, icing sugar and whiskey until stiff.

Shortbread: Cream together the butter and sugar. Gradually add in the flour. Bring the mix together into a smooth ball. Place in fridge for half an hour. Roll out to about 1cm thick. Cut out into 8cm circles and return to fridge for ten minutes. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes at 160C.

Compote: Toss the rhubarb and jam in a bowl and lay out in rows on a baking tray. Roast at 150C for 15 minutes, then cool, reserving the delicious juice.

Praline: Toast oatmeal and caster sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium high heat for 3 - 4 minutes, being careful not to burn the sugar. Turn out onto baking paper and separate with forks to prevent clumping. To assemble, place each shortbread on a plate and use a warmed ice cream scoop to place a ball of cream on top. Dress the plate with compote and finish with a scattering of candied oatmeal and a drizzle of reserved juice. Delicious also with freeze dried raspberries and toasted flaked almonds.

Haggis Bonbons

A recent poll found that 35 per cent of tourists visiting Scotland believed that Haggis was a beastie to be captured, and indeed, 25 per cent expected to catch one themselves. Save yourself the trouble and buy one ready caught! This makes quite a lot of bonbons, suitable for a Burns supper gathering. Serve with a good chutney or relish to cut the richness of the haggis and a dram of whisky. We serve these with Black Bull 40.

Makes 16 bonbons


Heavy bottomed pot or a deep fat fryer


• 1lb haggis

• 1 free range egg white

• 2 eggs

• 50ml milk

• 100g flour

• 200g Japanese Panko breadcrumbs

• Salt and pepper

• Oil for frying


Mash the haggis and the egg white thoroughly. Roll the haggis mix into 16 ping pong size balls. Prepare three plates, one with the flour and a little salt and pepper, one with the eggs whisked for twenty seconds with the milk, and the other with the panko breadcrumbs, seasoned with a little salt and pepper (you could add orange zest, or almonds also). Roll each ball in the flour, then into the egg wash, being careful to use alternating hands and then into the breadcrumbs, taking care not to get your wet and dry hands mixed up. Leave aside in the fridge for half an hour or so, and then deep fry at 190C in batches of four until golden, and finish in a 180C degree oven until cooked through, about ten minutes.