Culinary & Celebratory tips to host the perfect Burns Night

 His prose and lyrics are revered and recounted around the world.  And today Macdonald Hotels & Resorts has paid homage to Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burnsby joining Robert Burns Birthplace Museum to offer top culinary and celebratory tips to all who plan to toast the life and works of ‘Scotland’s Bard’ on Burns Night (25 January).

Ruaridh Macdonald, Operations Director of Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, explains: “From traditional and formal ‘toasts to the haggis’ to more informal gatherings with family and friends, throughout the country and around the world, Burns Night continues to be a popular annual celebration of The Bard.

“And with a little bit of planning there’s every opportunity to host a Burn’s Night with style and panache.”

John Paul’s haggis, neeps & tatties

Award winning chef and haggis aficionado John Paul (Macdonald Marine Hotel & Spa) – who once served up the world’s most expensive haggis – has some sound advice to prepare a delicious Burns Supper: “Choose a good haggis – using a local butcher to source quality ingredients and that all-important balance between oatmeal, suet, meat and spices for the rich flavour. Where possible, opt for a chieftain haggis.

Preparing the haggis, neeps and tatties

Executive chef, John Paul, added: “The key to this dish is how you cook the haggis. I recommend baking your haggis at a low temperature so as not to let it burst. Remove the outer packaging and prick the haggis skin with a fork, before wrapping in foil. This should take around one hour on a 180-200˚C heat. To serve, split open the haggis with a sharp knife and simply spoon the contents onto plates. And while my neeps are always steamed and creamed, the tatties are boiled and creamed.”

John Paul, likes to serve his haggis with a red wine sauce with fresh herbs. If preparing a whisky and mustard sauce – the classic alternative – he advises to simply simmer 500ml of beef stock and reduce to a quarter of its original volume. Add 50ml whisky and 100ml double cream, stirring continuously. Then stir in 1tps grain mustard. Slowly bring back to the boil while stirring and season to taste.


A wee dram – Of course, Scotch whisky is synonymous with Burn’s Night. For those looking to indulge in a dram, John Paul reveals how to get the most out of their malt with a few easy steps:

1.  Before you start sipping try ‘nosing’ your whisky, taking in all the aromas firstly with your nose with a good long sniff

2.  Try a small sip your single malt neat, holding it in your mouth before letting it glide down your throat to taste all the flavours

3.  If you do wish to add water, opt for spring water. If you can get the same spring water as that in your whisky, that is the ultimate match


Dress code for Burns!

The kilts and tartan sash is traditionally de rigeur for Burns Night though Nat Edwards of Robert Burns Birthplace Museum notes Burns himself had a different approach: “Burns wasn’t a great one for rules and regulations – and would have been gently amused by some of the pomp and ceremony associated with certain Burns Nights – but at the same time he was quite a stylish young man who took care over his appearance (we have some very fine buttons in our museum to attest to this).

“I am not too sure about too much tartan and lacy collars at Burns Nights. I think Burns would have leant more to Bradley Wiggins than Andy Stewart – but it’s all about personal choice.”

Rabbie Burns, Scottish Poet 1759-1796

Rabbie Burns, Scottish Poet 1759-1796

Waxing lyrical about Burns

When it comes to entertainment, Nat Edwards, Museum Director at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, advises: “Burns! It sounds obvious but Burns wrote and arranged hundreds of poems and songs – which have themselves been adapted and arranged by everyone from Beethoven to Bob Dylan. It’s a wonderfully rich and diverse canon of work that can range from simple recitation, through traditional music and song to the most avant-garde performances. Stick to Burns and you can’t go wrong.

“Picking a favourite Burns poem is a bit like choosing a favourite child – and the answer will change on an almost daily basis – but I think that the wonderful “Love and Liberty” (sometimes known as “The Jolly Beggars”) goes a long way towards capturing the mix of passion, politics, humour and irreverence that keeps Burns in our hearts.”

Thanks to & for keeping us right! 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply