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Wild Garlic Skirlie

skirlieFollowing on from the fried porridge a few weeks ago, I have a bag of beautiful Flahavans oats in the house and an even bigger urge to eat oats than usual so I’ve been dying to try out a skirlie recipe for a while. Getting given a bag of wild garlic from a foraging friend the other week meant the time had come for a simple filling post Easter dinner.

Skirlie is a Scottish dish where oats are toasted in a hot pan before having water or stock added to plump them up and turn them into a chewy almost risotto like dish. Wholesome and incredibly filling, it’s a great way to use up odds and ends but without the constant stirring of a risotto.

A delicious dish, it isn’t much of a looker if I’m honest and it needs something green and gorgeous to lift it and make it more appetising. I usually wilt some spinach into it but wild garlic seemed perfect as it’s still just in season and adds tonnes of flavour. You could use any green leafy veg such as shredded kale, cabbage or beetroot tops.

Like most dishes a little bacon scattered through it is excellent but if you have some leftover haggis then you are in for a treat. It melts into the oats, adds a peppery kick and lends it all a stunning smooth creaminess that takes peasant ingredients and turns them into a dinner that feels extremely luxurious indeed.

Wild Garlic Skirlie (serves 2)

  • 25g butter, lard or bacon fat
  • 1 large leek
  • 1 small onion
  • 200g porridge oats
  • 400ml water
  • 100g haggis (optional)
  • 200g wild garlic

Melt the fat in a cast iron frying pan or skillet and when it bubbles gently, add the leek and onion and sweat it all down over a low heat for about 10-12 minutes. You could add a little fresh thyme here if you had any.

Once the alliums are sweated down and starting to reduce in size, add the oats in and stir well to coat them with the fat and toast them. Stirring continually, cook them for about 3-4 minutes until they soak up the fat and begin to smell toasty and golden.

Splash in a little of the water at a time, allowing it to soak into the oats each time. Stop and allow it to cook out if the oats start to look sticky. When you have about 50ml left, crumble the haggis into the pan as well. Add the remaining water and stir it all through. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes more.

Wash the wild garlic well and put it in the pan with the skirlie. Put a lid on it if you have it and allow it all to wilt down for a few minutes. Serve the skirlie immediately in bowls and eat. Peppery enough from the haggis it needs no more seasoning. Enjoy and marvel at how uncannily filling and simple skirlie is.

 

Haggis Stuffed Onions

I love Burns’ Night. Not only is it a welcome night of revelry in the grey gloom of January, it’s an excuse to enjoy the delights of haggis (and mash). Seen as plain food by some, I associate it with excitement and glamour thanks to childhood memories of our parents hosting Burns’ Suppers for friends. They’d dress up, the table would get laid with the good plates and the house would be full of laughter and clinking glasses and everyone having a good time. That association and the comedy flying haggis that sat on the mantlepiece all year round has given me a huge soft spot for the humble haggis.

I do try and eat it each January, but I’ve never cooked it for myself before as its usually too much for one person and I feel I’d be treading on Scottish toes to host a supper myself. So imagine my glee when on a recent trip to Walters Butchers in Herne Hill I espied a teeny tiny perfectly portioned haggis for sale. Feeling slightly in need of indulgence since it’s a dry January, I brought it home and plotted doing something slightly different to the normal haggis, neeps and tatties.

And unsurprisingly, I got the urge to stuff something with the haggis. But since I’ve already tried squid and cabbage leaves and tomatoes and a marrow and probably more I’ve forgotten, it seemed like I’d run out of things to stuff. Until I espied a big bag of onions in the farmers’ market. I’ve heard of such things as a stuffed onion but never eaten them. I decided they would be a good challenge.

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Second-degree Burns

Two chieftains o’ the pudding-race

Last night I had the pleasure of hosting a Burns’ Supper for a couple of friends. It was a very last-minute affair, and was never intended as a faithful rendition of the rituals associated with celebrating the bard. More an excuse to get together with some mates and enjoy some good malts with a side order of offal and tubers… Read more