Hairst Bree is a hearty Scottish bowl of Harvest Broth or Hotch Potch. This traditional broth is almost a meal in itself, it really only needs a few slices of fresh-baked bread and a local farmhouse cheese to complete a satisfying supper. Hairst Bree in the lean times would be made with whatever was to hand, nettle tops, herbs, wild roots, offal etc. It was served to the farmers and labourers who brought in the harvest.
Hairst Bree Recipe
Serves 4 to 6 people. Ask the butcher to separate the neck of lamb into cutlets for you.
- 1 Kg middle neck of lamb, (separated into cutlets)
- 2.5 litres chicken stock
- Pinch of sea-salt (ground)
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- Bouquet garni (bag of herbs)
- 7 spring onions (trimmed and finely chopped)
- 3 carrots (peeled and finely diced)
- 2 small turnips (peeled and finely diced)
- 150g button mushrooms (quartered)
- 150g shelled young broad beans
- 250g shelled peas (fresh or frozen)
- 1 small cauliflower (divided into sprigs)
- 1 lettuce (cut in fine shreds)
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped mint
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley (to garnish)
Trim any excess fat from the lamb, and place all the meat in a large, heavy—based saucepan or flame-proof casserole dish. Add the chicken stock and season with ground sea-salt and black pepper. Add the bouquet garni (bag of herbs) and bring everything slowly up to the boil. Skimming off any impurities which rises to the surface. Cover tightly and simmer gently for about 1 hour, (60 minutes) or until the lamb flesh is beginning to come away from the bones. Lift out the meat with a slotted spoon and strip it from the bones. Discard the bones and chop the meat finely.
In a large frying pan add a knob of butter and a little vegetable oil, gently fry the chopped spring onions, then after five minutes fry the diced carrots, swede and mushrooms, for another 7 minutes on a gentle heat.
Skim off any fat from the stock. Return the meat to the pan and add the spring onions, carrots, turnips, beans and half the fresh peas. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes then add the cauliflower, lettuce, remaining fresh peas, sugar and mint. Continue to simmer for a further 30 minutes, until the vegetables which were added last are just tender. If using frozen peas instead of fresh ones, add them
only a few minutes before the end to heat through.
Discard the bouquet garni, check the seasoning, and serve the broth very hot garnished with chopped parsley. Serve with buttered bread and cheese.