Here we are in January already! The end of January actually. Seems all I’m thinking about is “I better start on a diet, as well as those taxes?” Sheesh! That’s no fun at all. But there is something that cheers me up every year without fault. At this time of year my thoughts always turn to Scotland. That’s right- January 25th, which is coming soon, is the birthday of Robert Burns. Robert Burns was born in 1759 and is regarded as the National Poet of Scotland. On January 25th folks throughout the world, though especially in Scotland, will be remembering him with a Burns Night Supper. And ya’ll. This year I pulled the trigger. Seriously. I did it. I ordered a Haggis!!! What is a Burns Night Supper without a wee Haggis? So this year I am thrilled to share this recipe for Balmoral Chicken! What you’ve got here is a moist tender chicken breast wrapped up in salty country bacon and stuffed with haggis. This succulent dish is served with a lovely Cream Whisky Gravy and a side of Clapshot. (An Orkney spin on Mashed Tatties and Neeps.)
When I was prowling around the internet looking for this years Burns Night offering, I came across many dishes featuring haggis. I was under the false impression that I would not be able to source a haggis here in Virginia. For those of you who might be thinking “What the heck is a haggis”? Well, haggis, the national dish of Scotland, is a savory pudding which contains sheep heart, liver and lungs along with oatmeal, suet and spices. Traditionally it was cooked within a sheep stomach but now artificial casings are often used instead. Authentic Scottish Haggis has been banned from import to the United States since 1971 as the USDA objected to the sheep’s lungs ingredient. This has led to a select group of American firms producing lung free haggis. And what do you know, but one of those firms is located just one state away from me. The Scottish Gourmet USA is located in Greensboro North Carolina. They import everything from Scotland from shortbread to smoked salmon to sweet heather honey ANNND…since they can’t legally import haggis, they taught a French sausage maker to make a crumbly delicious haggis from American lamb, onions, Scottish oats and a special blend of spices. Woohoo! I ordered it online and they shipped it right out to me. I can not tell you how priceless the look was on the Husbands face was when he saw the box and asked “Scottish Gourmet?” and I simply replied “My haggis has arrived!”
Now for those of you feeling a bit queasy, all I can say is “Man up!” Don’t knock it til you try it! Have you ever eaten a hot dog? Bet some of those ingredients can be a bit suspect. How about scrapple, hmmm? For many, haggis is an integral part of a Burns Night Supper. According to custom, the haggis should be placed upon a silver platter and paraded into the room with a bagpiper before Robert Burns’ poem Address to a Haggis is recited and the dish is theatrically cut with a ceremonial knife and served as the main course. Yes, Robert Burns will be forever linked with the haggis which he refers to as “the great chieftain of the pudding-race”. Clearly he was quite fond of it. I’ve actually eaten haggis in Scotland, well I had a Haggis Hot Dog once as well as some haggis on a pizza and definitely enjoyed it. And this Balmoral Chicken, wrapped in bacon and stuffed with haggis is very tasty if I do say so myself!
But if you are terminally squeamish and just can’t stand the though of it, I do have some alternatives you might want to try. I’ve actually posted quite a few tasty Burns Night dishes in the past. Last year I told you about this amazing Ecclefechan Butter Tart. This rich, scrumptious delight is chock full of nuts and warm cinnamon spiced fruit all wrapped up in a buttery whisky caramel.
The year before, there was this gorgeous Cock-a-leekie Pie:
And remember my Steak Auld Reekie served over Crispy Tatties & Neeps:
Or how about these Scottish Pies with Mushy Peas? This post is really fun because it is one of my travel postings telling you all about a fun trip that we took to Glasgow a few years ago.
And if you are intrigued by Scottish travel – just take a look at these Scottish Oat Cakes which are featured in my post about our journey to Lerwick in the Shetland Islands for their annual Up Helly Aa celebration, which is a Viking Fire Festival. How exciting it that?!!
But back to more Burns Night recipes, how about some infamous Scotch Eggs:
Perhaps you would like your Scotch eggs deviled?
Or maybe nestled within a meat pie?
If pie is not your thing (and I have no idea what you’re like if it isn’t…), how about this Cock-a-leekie Soup:
which I served with delicious, crusty Struan. Struan, also known as Celtic Harvest Bread, is thought to have taken its name from a town in Western Scotland called Struanmoor, on the Isle of Skye. It was originally enjoyed once a year as a harvest bread, using whatever grains were available from the previous day’s harvest. This is my absolute favourite bread, so it is almost always available in my house. It toasts up particularly brilliantly.
And for dessert maybe you’d enjoy this Dundee Cake with Hot Whiskey Marmalade
I think you get the picture. My blog is chock full of inspirational tasty Scottish dishes! A Burns Night cornucopia if you will. And let me add another delicious tidbit to the list with today’s offering: Balmoral Chicken. This relatively modern Scottish dish takes its name from Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, a vacation home for British royalty since 1852. Though truth be told, I couldn’t find any direct connection between the recipe and the estate.
I’ve also seen this dish referred to as Highland Chicken. What ever you want to call it, this winner entree consists of a tender juicy chicken breast stuffed with haggis and wrapped in smoky salty bacon, served with lashings of creamy whisky gravy. As well as with a hearty helping of Clapshot on the side.
“Oh no…” I can hear you saying. First “haggis” now “Clapshot”. Clapshot is just Tatties & Neeps with some onions thrown in. Yeah, I can just imagine your eyes narrowing in frustration – “Tatties & Neeps?” you might query. Yup, that’s Potatoes and Turnips. Except…what the Scots are referring to when they say Neeps or turnips are not the white turnips we might think of here in the States. They mean Swedish Turnip, which is also called Swede, which we call a Rutabaga. So Clapshot, which hails from Orkney, is a marvelously delicious creamy dish of buttery mashed potatoes and rutabagas shot through and topped with fried onions and chives. This is the perfect side for this Balmoral Chicken but would also be stunning with any Burns Night main dish you choose to serve.
So on January 25th I hope you will make some of these fine Scottish dishes that I shared with you today and join me in raising a wee dram and toast to Robert Burns, Scotlands favorite son.
Balmoral Chicken with Creamy Whisky Gravy & Clapshot
For the Balmoral Chicken:
- 2 large Chicken Breasts, pounded flat
- 1 lb. Haggis, thawed and divided in 1/2
- 10 Bacon Strips, uncooked
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place a 2 sheets of cling film or saran wrap on your work surface. Lay 5 pieces of the uncooked bacon side by side, just barely overlapping on the plastic wrap. Cover the bacon strips with the chicken breast which has been pounded flat. Transfer half of the haggis down the center of the chicken.
Roll one end of the bacon and chicken over the haggis and continue to roll it as tightly as you can. Place the roll in the center of the plastic film and wrap it up tightly. Twist the ends of the wrap and place the roll seam side down in the refrigerator. Repeat with the second bacon chicken roll.
Let the rolls chill in the refrigerator for at least thirty minutes to maintain the shape.
When you are ready to bake, remove the plastic wrapping and place both rolls seam side down in a baking dish.
Bake for 1 hour. Let cool for a few minutes and then slice and serve.
For the Whisky Cream Gravy:
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 Tablespoon flour
- 150 ml chicken stock, warmed
- 200 ml heavy cream
- handful of thyme leaves
- 50 ml Scottish Whisky
Melt two tablespoon butter in a sauce pan. Scatter the flour over the melted butter and whisk to combine. Slowly add the warmed chicken stock, whisking the entire time. Add the heavy cream and thyme leaves. Cook until the gravy thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and then add 50 ml (or more if the spirit takes you) good quality whisky.
For the Clapshot (Tatties & Neeps):
- 1 small swede (rutabaga), roughly 500 grams
- 3 medium potatoes, roughly 500 grams
- 1 medium onion
- small bunch of chives
- butter (2 -4 tablespoons)
- creams or milk
- salt and pepper
Peel the swede and the potatoes. Cut them into even sized cubes. Place both vegetables in salted water in separate pans. Boil them until they are fork tender. Drain the water and let them sit for 5 minutes or so to cool.
While the vegetable are cooking, peel the onion and slice it as thinly as you can. Fry the onion in a couple tablespoons of butter until it is golden brown. Set aside.
Rice the swede and potato pieces into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. You can just place the whole pieces in the bowl of a stand mixer, but I always use a ricer as I like the creamy consistency it provides. Add a knob of butter as well as a bit of milk or cream. Mix on medium for one minute. Add more butter and/or cream until you reach the desired consistency. Add a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.
Mix 2/3 of the fried onions in to the potato/swede.
Place in serving bowl, top with chives and the remaining fried onion.
Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Balmoral Chicken, Creamy Whisky Gravy & Clapshot:
Scottish Gourmet USA – your one stop shop for all things Scottish! They ship! If you hurry you might even be able to get that Haggis expressed shipped by Wednesday. Or be way ahead of the game for next year. Their haggis freezes quite well!