Scotland, in the far north of the British Isles, is famous for its food. Here are some easy Scottish recipes that make use of the abundance of fresh produce in this region.
Scotland has some of the most breathtaking scenery in the British Isles; snow-capped mountains, lochs, low-lying grasslands covered in wild heather, and a rugged but beautiful coastline.
From here comes the best beef, game, lamb, and seafood in the country. Aberdeen Angus beef is well known for its high quality and game such as pheasant, hare, and grouse is plentiful.
National dishes of Scotland include haggis, a delicacy that people find they either love or hate. Haggis is made from the offal of a sheep, including the heart, liver, and kidneys. This is mixed with suet, oatmeal, onions, and spices and the mixture is stuffed inside a sheep’s stomach.
Although synthetic casings are used more often now, haggis is still available with its traditional casing. The flavour and texture of haggis is said to resemble a coarse, spicy sausage.
Here are some traditional Scottish recipes for you to try.
This soup dates back to the 16th century. Its made from chicken and vegetables, including leeks, and is a warming, filling, and delicately flavoured dish. Serves 4.
60g each of carrot and celery, very finely chopped
230g leeks, very finely chopped
1.15 litres of good chicken stock
4 black peppercorns
230g of chicken, minced
2 medium egg whites
Salt and pepper
12 ready-to-eat prunes
12 small carrots, peeled and halved lengthways and cooked until soft
30g cooked leek, cut into thin strips
60g cooked chicken, cut into strips
12 ready-to-eat prunes
In a large pan, mix together the finely chopped vegetables, minced chicken, egg whites, peppercorns, chicken stock and a pinch of salt.
Place the pan over a medium heat and stir well. Once the soup reaches simmering point, reduce the heat and allow it to simmer, without stirring, for 1 hour and 30 minutes. A crust will have formed on top by this time.
Strain the liquid into a sieve, pushing the crust aside with a spoon. You should have a pale golden stock with the flavour of chicken and vegetables.
Ladle the stock into warmed bowls and add the cooked chicken, carrots and leeks and 3 prunes for each serving. Serve hot with good bread.
Omelette Arnold Bennett
This classic Scottish dish using eggs, smoked haddock and cheese, was named after the food critic and writer Arnold Bennett, when he was staying at The Savoy hotel in London in the 1920s. Langskaill is a rich-tasting mature cheese that marries perfectly with the haddock and eggs. If you can’t find it, use a mature cheddar instead. Serves 4.
680g smoked haddock fillets, preferably undyed
280 ml milk and water mixed
6 medium eggs
60g Langskaill or cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
140 ml double cream, lightly whipped
Preheat the oven to gas 4/180C/350F. Arrange the haddock in a roasting tin and pour over the milk and water. Cover and cook for 10 – 15 minutes. Allow to cool then break the fillets up into chunks with your fingers, removing any bones.
Beat the eggs with salt and pepper and a tablespoon of the liquid that the fish was cooked in. Stir in the flaked fish and half the grated cheese.
Heat the butter in a heavy-based non-stick pan and when sizzling, add the eggs. Cook over a medium heat, tilting the pan and then lifting the edges of the omelette with a knife to allow the uncooked egg to run underneath. When the bottom of the omelette is brown, put the pan under a hot grill to set the top and puff up the edges.
Spread the thickened cream over the omelette and scatter with the remaining cheese. Put it back under the grill for a few minutes until the cheese has melted and the top is golden brown.
Spicy Venison Casserole
Scottish venison is the best in the world and is now widely available. This hearty casserole will warm you up even on the coldest day. Serves 4.
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon juniper berries
280 ml red wine
2 dried bay leaves
0.9kg stewing venison, diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
110g carrots, sliced
110g turnips, diced
2 tablespoons plain flour
280 ml of good-quality beef stock
Salt and pepper
Crush the peppercorns, juniper berries and whole allspice in a pestle and mortar. Put the ground spices, red wine and bay leaves in a pan and heat gently until almost boiling. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
Place the venison and crushed garlic in a bowl and pour over the spiced wine. Cover and marinate for up to 48 hours in the fridge, turning the meat occasionally.
Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the shallots, carrots and turnips until well browned. Remove from the pan and set aside. Strain the marinade from the venison and set it aside. Cook the venison in batches until browned all over.
Add the flour to the juices in the pan and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the wine and tip in the meat and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a casserole dish, then cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook in a preheated oven, gas 3/170C/325F for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, until the meat and vegetables are tender.
This is good served with clapshot (recipe below) or some buttered new potatoes and a green vegetable.
This combination of swede or turnips mashed with potato is a great side dish. It’s often eaten with haggis and is sometimes called neeps and tatties. Serves 4.
450g potatoes, peeled and diced
450g turnips or swede, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped chives
Salt and pepper
Boil the potatoes and turnips or swede in a large pan of salted water until tender. Drain and tip back into the hot pan. Add the butter, season with salt and pepper and mash until smooth. Stir in the chopped chives before serving.
A delicious, buttery, crumbly biscuit that melts in the mouth. Shortbread is easy to make – it uses just 3 ingredients – and is a real treat. Makes 20 biscuits.
150g plain flour
100g butter, softened and diced
50g caster sugar plus extra for sprinkling
Rub the butter into the flour in a large bowl until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar. Turn out the mixture onto a lightly floured board or work surface and roll out to a thickness of about 2 cm. Cut the dough into fingers, prick all over the top with a fork to make patterns and sprinkle with some caster sugar.
Bake in a preheated oven, gas 3/170C/325F for 15 – 20 minutes, until the biscuits are pale golden in colour. Allow to cool so that they firm up. Lovely with a cup of tea!
Oats are widely used in Scottish baking, they are one of the few crops that grow well in the harsh conditions and poor soil. These moist flapjacks are sweet and chewy and very moreish. Makes 10 fingers or 20 squares.
85g of butter
30g soft light brown sugar
3 tablespoons golden syrup
170g rolled oats
A pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to gas 4/180C/350F. Heat the butter, sugar and golden syrup together in a heavy-based pan until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Line an 18 cm square tin with non-stick baking paper and spoon the mixture in, levelling it out with the back of a spoon. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown.
Mark into fingers or squares with a sharp knife then remove from the tin onto a wire cooling rack. When cold, break into fingers or squares and store in an airtight tin.
This is a wonderful combination of toasted oatmeal, fresh raspberries, whipped cream, heather honey and whisky layered up in tall glasses. It’s very moreish and the whisky gives it a subtle warmth. This is also known as cream crowdie. Serves 4.
2 tablespoons medium oatmeal
300g fresh raspberries
Caster sugar to taste
350 ml whipping cream
2 tablespoons heather honey
2 – 3 tablespoons Scottish whisky
Spread out the oatmeal on a baking sheet and put it under a hot grill for a few minutes. It won’t brown very quickly but keep an eye on it and use your nose to tell you when it’s done – it should smell toasty and nutty. Leave to cool.
Whip the cream, honey and whisky together using an electric whisk. You want the cream to be soft but able to stand up in peaks. Don’t overdo it or you’ll end up with butter. Mash half of the raspberries in a bowl, adding caster sugar to taste.
Take 4 tall glasses or sundae dishes and layer up the oatmeal, whisky cream, whole raspberries and raspberry puree. Place a couple of whole raspberries on top of each glass to garnish. Chill in the fridge for an hour before eating.
These quick and easy pancakes are much thicker than the ones we’re used to. Delicious served spread with butter and jam, or with berries and syrup for breakfast or brunch. Makes about 30 pancakes.
230g self-raising flour
A pinch of salt
60g of butter
30g caster sugar
1 medium egg, beaten
230 ml of full-fat milk
Oil for greasing the pan
Sieve the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, holding the sieve up high to get lots of air into the mixture. Make a hollow in the centre of the flour and add the egg and some milk. Mix from the middle, working outwards and adding more milk, until all the milk is used up and the flour has been incorporated. The consistency should be like pouring cream.
Heat a griddle or heavy-based frying pan until very hot and add a little oil. Drop tablespoons of the batter into the pan and cook for 2 – 3 minutes. The pancakes will puff up. Turn them over and cook the other side for a further 2 – 3 minutes until both sides are golden brown. Keep warm in a low oven wrapped in a clean tea towel while you cook the rest of the pancakes. Best served while still warm.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this article. If you want to find out more about the food of the British Isles go to traditional British food dishes. For recipes using British ingredients go to English food recipes.
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