A break from haggis

Robbie Burns Day celebrates Scotland's favourite son; meals can be more than haggis

Jan. 25 (today) marks Robbie Burns Day, a day for the Scots (and those who like to claim a wee bit of Scottish blood), to celebrate Scotland’s favourite son.

I always remember this day because it was my paternal grandmother’s birthday and she was of Irish stock which usually made for a chuckle or two. Robbie Burns was a poet and lyricist who is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and even though he only lived a short 37 years, he and his work have come to be celebrated worldwide since his death in 1796.

So as I sit on the warm beaches of Maui this morning, I can’t help but think of all the Scots freezing their butts off in Scotland and B.C. today. Happy Robbie Burns Day to all who celebrate.

Today’s beef recipe is a good substitute for the traditional haggis for those who have yet to acquire a taste for it. Making a good root vegetable stir-fry or the rutabaga recipe below are great additions to a Robbie Burns Day dinner.

Garlic Horseradish Sirloin Roast

3 lb (1.4 kg) top sirloin premium oven roast

4 cloves garlic, slivered

1/4 cup (60 mL) light mayonnaise

2 tbsp. (30 mL) prepared horseradish

1/2 tsp. (2 mL) dried sage

1/2 tsp. (2 mL) each of salt and pepper

4 onions, thickly sliced

1 cup (250 mL) beef stock

1/2 tsp. (2 mL) Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp. (15 mL) cornstarch

With sharp tip of knife, cut about 40 slits all over roast. Stuff each with garlic sliver.

In small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, horseradish, sage, salt and pepper; brush all over roast. Place onions in centre of roasting pan; place roast on onions. Roast in 325 degrees F oven until thermometer registers 160 degrees F for medium, about 2 hours.

Transfer to cutting board and tent with foil; let stand for 10 minutes before carving. Skim fat from pan juices. Pour in beef stock and Worcestershire sauce; bring to boil, stirring and scraping up brown bits.

Whisk cornstarch with 1 tbsp (15 mL) water; whisk into pan and cook, whisking, until thickened and glossy, about 2 minutes. Strain and serve with beef. Serve with mashed leek and potatoes.

Rutabaga Apple au Gratin

1 rutabaga

1 tbsp. (15 mL) cornstarch

1/2 cup (125 mL) water

2 apples, peeled and grated

1/2 tsp. (2 mL) salt

1 pinch pepper

1 pinch dried savory or thyme

Gratin: 1/2 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs

1 tbsp. (15 mL) chopped fresh parsley

1 tbsp. (15 mL) butter, melted

Peel and cut rutabaga in half lengthwise. Cut each half lengthwise into quarters; thinly slice crosswise. In saucepan of boiling salted water, cover and cook rutabaga until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In large bowl, whisk cornstarch with water until smooth. Add apples, salt, pepper and savory; toss to coat. Add rutabaga; toss gently.

Spread in 8-inch square glass baking dish. Cover and bake in 350 degrees F oven for 20 minutes.

Gratin: In bowl, toss together bread crumbs, parsley and butter; sprinkle over rutabaga mixture. Bake, uncovered, until tender, about 20 minutes. Broil until topping is golden, 3 to 4 minutes.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist.