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Anything But Haggis For Robbie Burns Day

Anything But Haggis For Robbie Burns Day


“There’s more.  Internal evidence.” Roger’s voice betrayed his pride.  “See there? It’s an article against the Excise Act of 1764, advocating the repeal of the restrictions of export of liquor from the Scottish Highlands to England.  Here it is” — his racing finger stopped suddenly on a phrase — ‘ “for as has been known for ages past, “Freedom and Whisky gang tegither.” ‘  See how he’s put that Scottish dialect phrase in quotes?  He got it from somewhere else.”

“He got it from me,” I said softly.  “I told him that — when he was setting out to steal Prince Charles’s port.”

“I remembered.”  Roger nodded, eyes shining with excitement.  “But it’s a quote from Burns,” I said, frowning suddenly.  “Perhaps the writer got it there — wasn’t Burns alive then?”

“He was,” said Bree smugly, forestalling Roger.  “But Robert Burns was six years old in 1765.”

“And Jamie would be forty-four.”  Suddenly, it all seemed real.. He was alive — had been alive, I corrected myself, trying to keep my emotions in check.  I laid my fingers flat against the manuscript pages, trembling.

“And if — ” I said, and had to stop to swallow again.  “And if time goes on in parallel, as we think it does –” Roger stopped, too, looking at me.  Then his eyes shifted to Brianna.

She had gone quite pale, but both lips and eyes were steady, and her fingers were warm when she touched my hand.

“Then you can go back, Mama,” she said softly.  “You can find him.”

Diana Gabaldon, Voyager (Chapter 21)

Talk about getting on the Voyager roller coaster!  Just on Monday Jamie and Claire were having some oatbread and broth at Madame Jeanne’s on their first night back together and now, here at the week’s mid-point, the fair ride seems to have been put in reverse…

The fact that we know she HAS to go back for the story to progress is beyond the point here.  So is the fact that I’ve read it fifty a few times before.

But we’re here to celebrate a Scottish bard, so let’s wipe away the sad tears and the happy ones too, pull out our bagpipes and celebrate this great poet, who, while a little tough to understand at times, certainly seemed to have love his Scotland.


Mr. Burns’s Address to a Haggis seems appropriate here.   However, any poem that addresses a haggis with the lines…

The groaning platter there you fill,
Your buttocks like a distant hill,

…doesna need to be on a food blog.

Not even an 18th Century Scottish food blog.

lamb sausage

And before all you haggis fans get you knickers in a knot, let me say that I have had a few haggis in my time and I quite enjoy a good one — from a very good restaurant — smothered in whisky cream sauce.  However, I have no interest in grinding up offal and stuffing it into sheep’s stomach.  So…

If it makes you feel better that the full title to this post is actually “I’ll Make Anything But Haggis For Robbie Burns Day,” then rest assured.  The abridged title got your attention, though, didn’t it?

Instead, we’re having my non-haggis interpretation of that very fine example I enjoyed at the Invergarry Hotel.  Served with the traditional neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes), the plate was made spectacular by a malt whisky and roasted onion sauce.

Mr. Burns:  I give you Lamb Sausage flavoured with fennel, mint and preserved lemon, served with a buttery Hasselback potato, candied turnips and that whisky cream sauce.  (Somethings don’t need translation.)

lamb sausage

(Click on the link below for a printable version of the recipe.)

Fennel, Mint & Lemon Lamb Sausage with Whisky Cream Sauce

Wonderfully aromatic sausage patties with short bursts of lemon and mint.  The whisky cream sauce dresses up the plate to make this a dish worthy of Mr. Burns, Himself.

Yield:  serves 4

  • Fennel Seeds – 1 Tble
  • Chilli Flakes – 1 tsp
  • Ground Lamb – 1 lb
  • Corn Meal – 2 Tble
  • Fresh Mint – 2 Tble
  • Thyme – 1 tsp (fresh) ½ tsp (dried)
  • Preserved Lemon, minced – 1 tsp (or the grated zest of 1 lemon)
  • Salt – ½ tsp
  • Pepper – ⅛ tsp

Whisky Cream Sauce

  • Onion, minced – ¼ Cup
  • Garlic, minced – 1 clove
  • Chicken Stock – ½ Cup
  • Whisky – 1½ oz
  • Cream – ½ Cup

For the sausage:  In a small, preferably cast iron, pan over med. low heat, roast the fennel seeds and chili flakes for 5 to 10 minutes until just aromatic but not browned.  Lightly grind in a spice/coffee grinder – use 1½ tsp for this recipe and set aside the remainder for another use (see tips).

Use your hands to mix together the fennel/chili mix, ground lamb and the rest of the ingredients until well combined.  You can form into patties and cook immediately, or for a more restaurant-style presentation, form the mixture into a sausage about 2” in diameter.  Roll and wrap tightly in plastic, then turn the ends in opposite directions to tighten the wrapping.  Continue to tighten until very firm, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat a heavy frying pan over medium to med. high heat.  Unwrap the sausage, cut ½” slices and fry until golden, about 3 minutes.  Flip and fry until browned on the other side, about 3 to 4 more minutes.

Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and tent with foil to keep warm.

For the whisky sauce:  Add the onion and garlic to the fat in the pan and saute, stirring constantly until aromatic, about 1 minute, trying not to overbrown/burn.  Deglaze the pan with the chicken stock and whisky.  Reduce the liquid until the pan is almost dry, about 3-4 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low, add the cream and continue to cook at a quick simmer until it coats the back of a spoon, about 3 more minutes.

Arrange the sausages on the plate and spoon the sauce over top.

Ith do leòr! (Eat Plenty)


  • I use lamb from right here on my little island.  It tends to be a bit fattier than ground lamb from Australia/NZ (which is what is in most N. American grocery stores).  You can always mix a little ground pork in with the lamb for a moister, juicier sausage.
  • Use the remaining fennel/chili mixture as a rub for your next roast (chicken, beef or pork), or in tacos or tomato sauce.
  • Preserved lemons are a North African condiment that is my secret ingredient in many dishes.  They’re easy to make at home and last indefinitely.
  • Don’t overcrowd the pan — it’s better to fry it in 2 batches than to end up with steamed sausage.
  • If the pan is very dry after frying the sausage, add a little olive oil to saute the onion and garlic.
  • You can substitute white wine for the whisky in the sauce, or just omit it altogether if you prefer.

hasselback potatoes

Hasselback Potatoes

These baked potato fans were originally served at the Hasselbacken Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden back in the 80’s — the 1980’s.  The wonderful seasoned crispy crust and buttery interior matches well with almost everything and they’re easy enough to make any night of the week.

Preheat oven to 425° degrees F.

Cut a narrow 1/4-inch slice from the bottom of each potato and discard.  This will keep the potato lying flat.

Place two chopsticks on each side of the potato lengthwise. Use a sharp knife to make 1/4″ slices in each potato crosswise. The chopsticks will prevent the knife from cutting entirely through the potato. You need to leave 1/4-inch of the bottom of the potato intact.

As you finish cutting each potato, rinse it under cold water, gently flexing the potato fan open. Blot the potatoes dry with a towel.

Assemble the potatoes in a baking pan and insert a thin slice of garlic in between every second slice or so.  Season with salt & pepper. Generously smear butter across the top of each potato.  Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes.  Uncover and cook another 10-15 minutes, or until tender and golden.

(My potato in the photo is actually a little underdone.  My bad.  The best Hasselbacks are crisp and golden on top.)


Candied Turnip

Peel and chop a small turnip in to 1/2″ cubes.  Blanch the turnip in boiling salted water until tender-crisp.  Drain well.

In a small, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, cook 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tble water, 1/4 tsp turmeric and a pinch each of salt and cayenne, stirring occasionally, until it is thick and large “foamy” bubbles appear (250° F).

Stir in the turnip and continue to cook, until the water has reduced, and the turnip is coated in a caramel.  Remove from the heat and serve hot.

Loch Oich - one of the most beautiful places on earth

My Heart’s in the Highlands

(Robert Burns, 1789)

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.

Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North,
The birth-place of Valour, the country of Worth ;
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.

Farewell to the mountains, high-cover’d with snow,
Farewell to the straths and green vallies below;
Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods,
Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.



  1. Alayna
    January 25, 2012 at 7:44 am

    That looks delicious. What time is dinner?

    • Theresa
      January 25, 2012 at 12:44 pm

      We usually eat around 7 – see you then?

  2. Kelly
    January 25, 2012 at 7:44 am

    Thanks for the recipe!
    They also have very good haggis with whisky cream sauce at Fiddler’s in Drumnadrochit

    And it comes with a dram 🙂

    • Theresa
      January 25, 2012 at 6:15 pm

      Thanks for the tip, Kelly! There you go folks, 2 excellent places for haggis, about a 10 minute drive from each other…you just have to get yourselves to the Highlands!

  3. Mary
    January 25, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Oh, I’m drooling with hunger just reading the recipes. And love, love, love the poetry.

  4. Lee Ann
    January 25, 2012 at 7:58 am

    This sounds delicious! And I love the poem 😉 I actually really like haggis…but I don’t see myself making it either. However, never say never…right?

    • Theresa
      January 25, 2012 at 6:12 pm

      Never say never, Lee Ann. And if you across a sheep’s stomach and some offal, give me a call…we can make it together!

  5. Ruth
    January 25, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Verra nice, Theresa! I’ve always loved baked potatoes and certainly have enjoyed haggis (when I visited Scotland), but like the idea of lamb sausages also (reminds me of my uncle’s farm where he raises sheep, and going to the butcher in L’Orignal with my aunt to pick up the lamb after they’d done what was necessary, so much flavor in them!) If only I did more cooking!

    • Theresa
      January 25, 2012 at 6:14 pm

      Ruth, perhaps you can find someone to make these for you? You bring the lamb… 😉

  6. Connie Barlow
    January 25, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Whats the word. Sumptuous cant wait to try it!

    • Theresa
      January 25, 2012 at 6:11 pm

      Happy Burns Day, Connie!

  7. Leslie Blair Gallagher
    January 25, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Lovely blog, another HUGE fan of Herself and love to cook and also reenact 1740s Highland Scotland up and down the Front Range of the Rockies. Will have to pass along your blog addy to the cook.

    • Theresa
      January 25, 2012 at 6:08 pm

      Thanks for stopping by! I look forward to hearing from “the cook!” Theresa

  8. outlanderfan
    January 25, 2012 at 11:15 am

    I’ve never tried haggis but your non-version sounds delicious! I love the thought of making my own sausage from scratch. (And can I just say, reading the passage literally made me tremble & get teary-eyed, feeling again what Claire felt when she realized Jamie was still ‘alive,’ sigh…. My four year old daughter asked me what was wrong, lol…

    • Theresa
      January 25, 2012 at 6:09 pm

      I love Voyager, don’t you? 😉

  9. Kiri W.
    January 25, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Whisky cream sauce? I don’t even care about what it’s smothering! 😉 Looks delicious, and very appropriate.

  10. deniz
    January 28, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    I am oh so hungry and that sausage and potato – and the haggis! – look oh so good.

  11. Gail
    January 28, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Love your blog Theresa! Everything always looks so delicious, and I love how you tie it in to the Outlander series.

    • Theresa
      January 29, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      Many thanks, Gail…there’s no doubt that 18th C food can be made delicious! Even my Englishman is starting to agree…;)

  12. Danielle
    January 28, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    I absolutely LOVE the Outlander series. What a great idea to do cuisine from the novels!

    • Theresa
      January 29, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      Thanks, Danielle! Your in good company here…we’re all a bunch of Outlander nuts…

  13. bullrem
    January 30, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    I am surely going to make these dishes. But not with lamb, my wee little town never has it. I hope ground beef will be ok. It all looks yummy and with a sprinkling of Rabbie, Jamie, and Claire in the mix, all the better. Thank you VERY much. Helen in Ark.

    • Theresa
      January 31, 2012 at 9:33 am

      These should be just as tasty with beef! Use regular ground, though, not lean….sausage needs a little fat, you know?

  14. Thoracias
    September 6, 2014 at 7:54 am

    AHH! Finally I got the correct page and can attempt the potatoes and turnips! THANK YOU!!

    • Theresa
      September 6, 2014 at 8:38 am

      Lol! Sorry about the delay.

  15. Shell
    January 25, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    I actually love a good haggis! I had an awesome dish in Sterling, changed my view on it forever. Haggis, mashed neeps and tatties layered with a whisky creme sauce drizzled over. That was 15 years ago. I can still taste it! (Yes, my trip then was inspired by the books. Lol) NEVER, I repeat, never get your haggis from a chip shop. Best advice I received from a lovely Scottish lassie on my trip. Can’t wait to make this version!

  16. Marj
    January 25, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Love your blog, recipes, and clever (funny!) way of bringing everything together ! I’ve had haggis a few times at Robert Burns day suppers in Antigonish , Nova Scotia , and quite enjoyed it !! Never made it myself though!!

  17. Anna Lapping
    January 26, 2015 at 5:39 am

    I love making my own sausage and I will be making this one sometime this week. The turmeric in the turnips sounds wonderful, and it gives them such nice color.

  18. Anna Lapping
    February 2, 2015 at 6:23 am

    Mixed these up on Friday using 3/4 lamb and 1/4 pork. Served on Saturday evening for our “Burns Dinner”. My husbands reaction…”You have to make this again!” Thank you.

    • Theresa
      February 2, 2015 at 9:13 am

      Can’t ask for better feedback than that! Well done to the chef!

  19. Sandy B
    February 13, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    Just made the lamb sausage and it was OUTSTANDING! Everyone loved it and I will certainly make it again. Thanks for keeping us well fed!

  20. Renée S
    October 20, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    For the whisky cream sauce–you call for cream, but don’t mention which kind. Half n half or heavy whipping cream? Since I’m from the U.S., I don’t have access to “single” or “double” creams.

    • Theresa
      October 20, 2015 at 4:58 pm

      My bad! Oops. It should read whipping cream. Theresa

    • Renée S
      October 20, 2015 at 5:36 pm

      Thank you ever so much, Teresa! I’m planning a Burns Night Dinner for January for my International Dining Group (part of the Ohio State University Women’s Club) and am testing all of the recipes ahead of time!

  21. Marie
    January 26, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    Theresa, I made this meal for my Burn’s night. My daughter said it was wonderful. I was disappointed in the cream sauce, it just did not thicken up like I think it should have. The candid turnips were fantastic !! But, best was the lamb. I love lamb, my husband asked I not make it anymore he really hated it. I think he is going to love this recipe. Thank you for teaching me how to cook lamb better than I have ever cooked it before 😉

    • Theresa
      January 27, 2016 at 6:24 am

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, Marie!

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