Traditional Scottish Recipes: Haggis, Tattie Scones and More
Traditional Scottish recipes are rarely thought of as being among the most exciting in the worlds of food and cuisine. Often, people will think of such dishes as haggis and shortbread and think that we Scots exist purely on a peculiar diet of the same. The reality is, of course, somewhat different in that Scottish recipes are very often exciting, extremely tasty and very varied. It is my intention on this page to explore the world of Scots cooking and share with the wider world at large some traditional Scottish recipes and ingredients.
I will be updating this page on a regular basis, so I hope you will return in the near future to find some more traditional Scottish recipes.
Haggis, Tatties and Neeps (Potatoes and Turnips) Recipe
It is fair to say that if one were to ask a group of non-Scots to name a Scottish dish, the majority would say, "Haggis!" I could not therefore ignore this fact and fail to provide a tasty way of serving the traditional haggis, tatties and neeps.
This recipe serves 2–3.
- 1 small haggis
- 1 pound potatoes
- 1 small turnip
- 4 tablespoons frozen peas
- 2 large carrots
- A dram of fine single malt whisky
- When haggis is purchased from the supermarket, it is likely that the cooking instructions will be on the packaging. It is important to time all other ingredients to coincide with the haggis being ready to serve.
- Peel and chop the potatoes and the turnip. Place them in to two separate pans of boiling, salted water and simmer for half an hour (the potatoes may take slightly longer than the turnip).
- Put the carrots into another pan of boiling water, ten minutes before the potatoes and turnip are ready, adding the frozen peas three minutes before the end of the cooking time.
- Drain the potatoes, turnip and carrots and peas well, then mash the potatoes and turnip.
- Start with the turnip and form a rough disc on the centre of each plate. Add a disc of potato on top and finish off with some haggis. Arrange the carrots and peas around the border of the plate.
- Pour a little single malt over the haggis and serve immediately.
Tattie (Potato) Scones Recipe
Tattie scones are very much a staple part of the Scottish culinary traditions. They are most often eaten at breakfast time but their versatility means that they can be enjoyed at any time of the day in a variety of different ways.
Tattie scones are most often made in triangular or segment shapes but on this occasion, I made circular ones, purely due to the way in which I intended to use them.
- 1/2 pound potatoes (weighed after being peeled)
- 2 ounces plain or all-purpose flour
- 1 ounce butter
- Generous pinch of salt
- Put the peeled and chopped potatoes into a pot and cover them with boiling water. Bring back to the boil and simmer for around twenty-five minutes until they are soft. Drain them well and return them to the empty pot.
- Add the butter to the potatoes and mash them thoroughly before adding the sieved flour in two or three stages, stirring well with a wooden spoon. When the mixture has come together to form a dough, cover and allow to cool.
- Lightly flour a chopping board or clean surface and if making circular tattie scones as I have done, separate the dough in to three pieces before forming each in to a ball and rolling out to a thickness of approximately 1/4 inch. If traditional shaped tattie scones are required, simply roll out the whole piece of dough and cut in to the required shapes.
- Add a little vegetable oil to a non-stick frying-pan and bring it up to a medium heat before adding the tattie scones. Ensure that the heat is not too high or the scones will brown on the outside while still being raw and unpalatable on the inside. The tattie scones should take around three minutes on each side to cook and nicely brown.
- When the scones are ready, they can either be eaten straight from the pan, allowed to cool and enjoyed with such as butter or jam, or even re-heated at a later time as part of perhaps a traditional Scottish breakfast. They should easily keep for two or three days in an airtight container or in the refrigerator.
A Roll and Sausage and Tattie Scone
A roll and sausage is a very popular breakfast or lunch foodstuff in Scotland. In certain parts of Scotland, however, the roll and sausage will be accompanied with a tattie scone and even a fried egg. Most often, the sausage and the tattie scone will be fried and the bread roll spread thick with butter but in this instance I have grilled both the sausage and the tattie scone and eliminated the butter from the roll altogether.
About the Sausages
The sausages most often used in this recipe in Scotland are Lorne sausages, sometimes called sliced sausages. They are basically the product of sausage meat formed in to large blocks, wrapped in plastic and then sliced. They come in both round (pictured) and the slightly larger square variety.
It is important to watch with Lorne sausages, as on occasion the plastic wrap will still be around the edges when they are sold. Naturally, this is not edible and should be removed and discarded.
- Lorne sausages take about eight to ten minutes to grill under a moderate heat—turned halfway through—and the tattie scones will take a couple of minutes at most on either side to re-heat.
- In order to fry the egg, a very little vegetable oil should be added to a non-stick pan and brought up to a fairly high heat before the egg is added.
- The heat should then be reduced to moderate and the egg cooked for about three minutes before being turned to cook for one minute on the opposite side.
Traditional Full Scottish Breakfast Recipe
A traditional full Scottish breakfast can have many inclusions. The items which are served as part of a full Scottish breakfast are likely to be determined not only by their availability but by the extent of one's appetite and the size of one's plate!
Although this type of breakfast is by no means eaten by the vast majority of Scots on a regular basis, it is very often a Sunday treat or something which is eaten at a cafe or restaurant. The more traditional Scottish breakfast on a daily basis is a bowl of cereal, or a slice of toast and a cup of tea or coffee. In my case—when I was in traditional employment—I am now ashamed to admit that it was a mug of black coffee and two cigarettes!
The following list of ingredients is per person.
- 1 Lorne sausage
- 1 slice of black pudding
- 2 tattie scones
- 2 rashers of bacon
- 1 free-range, organic egg
- 2 tablespoons baked beans in tomato sauce (with reduced sugar!)
- Preheat the grill to medium to high and put the sausage and black pudding under it first. They will take about four to five minutes each side. When the sausage and black pudding are turned, add the bacon, turning after two minutes. When the bacon is turned, add the tattie scones turning after one minute. It may be necessary to read this paragraph twice!
- When we are cooking with eggs, we should never use them straight from the fridge. If one keeps them in the fridge, they must be removed at least two hours prior to cooking them if one is to achieve the best results. I remember the horror on my Gran's face when I was a child when she heard of anyone keeping eggs in the refrigerator. The difference can be truly amazing.
- When the bacon is on the grill pan, put a little vegetable or sunflower oil in to a non-stick frying-pan and bring the oil up to a fairly high heat. Add the egg and reduce the heat a little to medium. Cook the egg in this way until the other items are ready.
- The baked beans in tomato sauce should be gently heated for a couple of minutes in a small saucepan.
Other items which one may wish to include in a traditional full Scottish breakfast would be such as mushrooms or tomatoes (grilled rather than fried) or toast (as opposed to the tattie scones or fried bread.)
A traditional full Scottish breakfast need not therefore be a grease-dripping heart attack on a plate but can represent instead a thoroughly enjoyable start to the day as well as a nutritious one.
Traditional Scottish Fish Supper Recipe
OK, I will concede that the meal pictured and detailed below is not exactly a traditional Scottish fish supper. In times gone by, a fish supper—as it is known in Scotland—was a skinless fillet of white fish, dipped in batter and deep fried in beef fat. It was accompanied by chips similarly cooked. A traditional fish supper was first wrapped in greaseproof paper, then perhaps brown paper, before being further wrapped in a sheet or two of newspaper.
There is no doubt that fish suppers served in this way were delicious, and I remember vividly eating them as a child, but they could hardly ever be described as the absolute healthiest of fayre.
Modern Fish and Chips
In modern times, the fish and chips are most often cooked in vegetable fat but they can still be incredibly greasy and the chips in particular soggy and limp. Sadly also, the powers that be have banned the wrapping of fish suppers in newspaper on, "health and safety," grounds. Far be it from me to suggest that this latter fact is quite simply yet another attempted justification for keeping a bureaucratic, waste of space pen-pusher in a job.
A Healthier Recipe
The simple recipe below is for my healthier option yet still traditional Scottish fish supper which anyone can prepare at home. Note that haddock is the white fish used in most traditional Scottish fish suppers but whiting or cod will suffice just as well. Be sure, however, that if using whiting or cod, to reduce or increase the cooking times respectively.
- 1 skinless fillet of haddock
- 2 large potatoes
- 1 thick, outside slice of bread
- 1 large free range, organic egg
- Vegetable oil
- Drizzle a little vegetable (or sunflower) oil on to a baking tray and put the tray in to the oven. Preheat the oven and the tray to 400°F/200°C/Gas Mark 6.
- Peel the potatoes, slice them to about 1/2" thickness and chop them in to chips. Put them on to the hot baking tray and season lightly with salt before shaking them around to coat them lightly in the oil. Put them in to the oven for half an hour, removing them after fifteen minutes to shake them around again to ensure even cooking.
- Grate (shred) the bread on to a large dinner plate to form breadcrumbs. Semi-stale bread is best for this purpose but if the bread is fresh, sitting it on the hot oven shelf for a minute or two will dry it out sufficiently to allow grating. Break the egg in to a pudding or soup bowl and beat thoroughly with a fork.
- When the chips have just over ten minutes cooking time remaining, put around a tablespoon of vegetable oil in to a non-stick frying pan (big enough to contain the fish fillet) and bring it up to a moderate heat. Dip the fish fillet in to the egg, ensuring it is completely coated, before patting it on both sides in the breadcrumbs. Repeat this process if necessary to ensure the fish is properly coated in breadcrumbs.
- A thick fillet of haddock such as the one shown should cook on a medium heat in about five minutes on each side.
- Plate the chips first with the fish on top. The lemon twist is an optional extra.
Cullen Skink Recipe
Skink is traditionally a soup made from beef but Cullen Skink- named after the small Highland fishing village of Cullen where it is believed to originate - is made with freshly smoked haddock. Please note, however, that Cullen Skink should be made with naturally smoked haddock and not the smoked haddock which has subsequently been chemically died that horrendous pale orange colour.
This recipe serves two.
- 1 pound of smoked mackerel fillets
- 1 small onion
- 8 ounces potatoes (peeled weight)
- 3/4 pint milk
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
- 1/2 ounce butter
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Place the haddock fillet or fillets in to a pot and add just enough cold water to cover them. Bring to a boil and simmer for about four minutes.
- Place the peeled and chopped potatoes in to a separate pot, season with salt and add boiling water. Simmer for around twenty-five minutes until soft.
- Remove the haddock from the water with a slotted spoon and carefully remove the skin. Separate the haddock in to flakes, checking for any remaining bones in the process. Return the haddock flakes to the stock, along with the onion and the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer for fifteen minutes.
- Drain the potatoes and return them to the empty pot with the butter. Swirl them around in the butter until the butter melts and then mash them.
- Strain the fish and onion from the stock, discarding the bay leaf but reserving the stock. Return the stock to the pan and add the milk and bring to the boil. Stir in the mashed potato to thicken the stock before re-adding the fish and onion along with the parsley. Heat through and serve immediately.
Venison Braised in Beef Stock with Mashed Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts Recipe
Venison is traditionally very popular in Scotland due to the large native population of red deer and in latter years, the number of commercial deer farms which have appeared, particularly in the West Highlands. Venison is a very lean meat, so although this means that it is a very healthy meat to consume, it also means that it is entirely possible for it to be dry or tough if not cooked properly.
For this reason, venison should generally be cooked very slowly in such as a casserole or alternatively braised on the hob in stock. This recipe sees the venison slowly braised in beef stock and select chopped vegetables. It serves one.
- 6 ounces venison loin, diced
- 1 pint fresh beef stock
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 1 medium carrot, scraped and sliced into rings
- Pinch of dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons plain or all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or sunflower oil
- 2 large potatoes
- 6 Brussels sprouts
- A knob of butter
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Put the oil into a large pot and allow it to come up to a medium heat.
- Add the flour to a bowl and season well with pepper. Dredge the venison pieces in the flour to coat them well before placing them in the heated oil and stirring to brown and seal them for a couple of minutes.
- After this time, add the onion and carrot, stir for another minute, then add the beef stock and thyme. Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer for at least two hours until the venison is tender, stirring occasionally. A little additional stock or hot water may be required towards the end of the cooking process.
- Around thirty minutes prior to the vension being ready, put the peeled and chopped potatoes in to boiling salted water and simmer until soft. Drain them well when ready and mash with a little butter.
- The Brussels sprouts should be added to boiling salted water and simmered for eight to ten minutes, depending on the size of the sprouts. The sprouts should be timed to be ready at the same time as the potatoes.
- The mashed potatoes should be spooned on to a dinner plate and carefully formed in to a circle with the sprouts served around the edges and the braised venison on top.
Traditional Scottish Recipes and Health
Sadly, it is very often the case that traditional Scottish recipes and foodstuffs are not the healthiest meals which one can consume. Although the older recipes tend to include fresh, quality ingredients, prepared in a natural way, Scotland has long since gained a reputation for eating items cooked in excessive saturated fat, salt or both. Some of the creations which have surfaced in Scotland in recent years are not only incredibly unhealthy, but the very sound of them is absolutely disgusting! Have you ever tried a Mars Bar deep-fried in batter?
Although I will include some of these recipes on this site (though not the deep-fried Mars Bar!), I will endeavour to improve their health-giving qualities by using cooking oils instead of saturated fat, grilling/broiling instead of frying where possible and using sodium reduced salt, only in sensible quantities. As Scotland and the USA constantly contest that most unenviable title of being, "Heart Attack Capital of the World," I certainly do not want to do anything to encourage others to develop unsavoury habits.