Highland is a mountainous north-west region of Scotland, and these are a collection of local and regional recipes handed down within families who have lived and worked in the Highlands area. All of the recipes below are regionally authentic, originally coming from recipe books published in the 1800s or 1900s, with the weights and measurements adjusted (alongside the old standards) where appropriate for the modern kitchen.
Get from the butcher a sheep’s stomach bag carefully washed and scraped, also the ‘pluck’, i.e. liver, lights, and heart. Wash the pluck and soak in cold water, then boil it for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the windpipe and any bits of gristle and the skin, add 1/2 lb (250g) suet, and put all through the mincer. Mix in 2 cupfuls of (300g) oatmeal previously dried before the fire, add 1/2 pint (300ml) of the stock in which the pluck was boiled, season with salt and pepper. Knead well with the hands to make sure that it is thoroughly mixed. Turn the bag inside out and fill about half full with the pluck mixture, thus allowing for the oatmeal to swell and for the bag to shrink a little.
Sew up carefully, mending any tears in the bag, and prick al over to allow the air to escape while cooking. Place on a plate in a stewpan and simmer for two to three hours. The plate is necessary to keep the haggis from touching the bottom of the pan as otherwise it might burst. Great care must be taken when removing it from the pan or, again the skin may break.
This is the authentic and very simple ‘porridge’ eaten by Scots for hundreds of years. In ‘Kidnapped’, by Robert Louis Stevenson, it is explained, “We had the porridge cold again at noon, and hot porridge at night; porridge and small beer was my uncle’s diet.” The spurtle or spirtle is a Scots kitchen tool dating from at least the fifteenth century. It was originally a flat, wooden utensil used for flipping oatcakes on a hot griddle (girdle), but it developed to be more like a round baton or wooden spoon, to also stir the broths and porridge with.
Ancient Recipe: 10 tablespoons oatmeal, salt to season, 1 pint (600ml) water.
Modern Recipe: 10 tablespoons of oatmeal, sugar and honey to taste, 1 pint (600ml) milk.
Bring the water to the boil and sprinkle in the oatmeal, stirring with a spurtle, (wooden spoon). Boil for a few minutes, then pour the porridge into a bowl. Place the bowl over a gently steaming pan of boiling water (double-boiler) and leave gently steaming for an hour, stir with the spurtle every so often. Once the oatmeal is tender sprinkle in the salt to season and serve. The poorer communities would eat this porridge plain, but in wealthier Scottish house-holds a separate bowl of cream is provided and each spoonful of porridge is first dipped into the cream. The modern way to eat porridge is to replace the water with milk and serve it with sugar and honey.
About 1 quart (1.1 L) whey (from cheese-making) about 2 cups (300g) oatmeal, salt.
Bring whey to boiling point. Sprinkle in oatmeal slowly, stirring all the time until boiling. Add salt to taste. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes. Serve with milk as usual.
Allow 2 lb (1 Kg) of venison pie pieces (best hind quarters) for four persons. (In a casserole dish) Brown a goodly sized sliced onion in fresh dripping (lard), add the venison – cut it into very small ‘pie’ pieces (cubes), and roll in plain flour, flavoured with salt, pepper, powdered sage, marjoram, thyme or other herbs. Cook gently until the meat is coated with a delectable brown richness. Sufficient hot water should now be added to cover the whole and the stew stirred vigorously until it thickens. Next add sliced carrot, turnip, leek, in fact any vegetable you have. Turn into a ‘pipkin’ casserole (put the lid on) and cook for at least 2 1/2 hours in a rather slow oven.
Have some good stock ready (chicken is best), gather some young nettles from the top of a wall as they are always clean there. Wash the nettle-tops, and add with some potatoes thinly sliced, and cook until potatoes are quite broken down. Season to taste.
COW HEEL STEW
Take 1 1/2 or 2 lb (1 Kg) of shin and one cow heel. Cut the shin in pieces and the cow heel in half. Put in an earthenware dish or large casserole with seasoning and cook in a slow oven until all meat leaves the cow heel. The bones can then be lifted out. with baked potatoes this stew is excellent. If liked it can be poured into moulds or bowls and allowed to set. This brawn can be sliced and eaten with salads and sliced for sandwiches.
BARLEY BANNOCKS (girdle recipe)
Barley meal, butter, salt, sweet milk. Put half a pint (300ml) of milk into a pan with a pinch of salt and an ounce (30g) or more of butter. Bring to the boil and stir in quickly enough barley meal to make a pliable dough. Turn out on a floured board, roll out thinly, cut into rounds the size of a meat plate. Bake on a hot girdle, (griddle pan or frying pan) turning them once, on a rather sharp fire. Cut or fold into 4. They should be eaten hot.
SAUTIE BANNOCKS (girdle recipe)
2 oz (60g) oatmeal (fine), 2 oz (60g) plain flour, 1 tablespoonful treacle or syrup, pinch salt, 1/2 teaspoonful bicarbonate of soda, 1 teaspoonful cream of tartar, 1 egg, some sour milk.
Mix dry ingredients in basin. Add syrup, beaten egg and sufficient sour clotted milk to form ingredients into a thin batter. Beat well until air bubbles appear. Drop batter from the point of spoon to get nice round shape on to a hot, well-greased girdle (griddle pan or frying pan). Turn when golden brown underneath and fire other side. Cool on a towel.
INVERNESS ICED BUNS
LINK: SEE THIS FEATURED RECIPE INVERNESS ICED BUNS
This recipe probably developed at the end of the 1800s using baking powder instead of an earlier bun recipe calling for fresh yeast as the leavening agent, making it once closer to the texture of bread. This ‘new’ ingredient baking powder or baking soda, at the end of the 1800s, saved time in the kitchen, but it somewhat altered the results of the older recipes which used yeast.
Partan Bree means Crab Soup (partan = crab, bree = liquid). The brown meat of the crab is used to flavour the soup while the white meat is added in for texture.
1 large boiled crab, 3 oz (85g) long grain rice, 1 pint (600ml) chcicken stock, 1 pint (600ml) milk, dash of anchovy essence (or fish sauce), ¼ pint (150ml) single (light) cream, salt and pepper to season.
Pick all the meat from a boiled crab, separating the white from the dark meat. In a saucepan boil the milk and chicken stock until tender. Mix in the brown meat and simmer for ten minutes then liquidize everything. Return to the heat, season with salt and pepper and add the anchovy essence. Add the white crab meat and stir in the cream, heat through on a very gentle simmer. Adjust the seasoning and serve.