On Wednesday Jan. 25, people all over the world celebrate Robert Burns, the Scottish bard who penned “Auld Lang Syne,” with special dinners, dancing and music in honor of his birth on this day in 1759.
At the centerpiece of the festivities is haggis, which Burns memorialized in his poem “Address to a Haggis.”
Haggis, the Scottish national dish, is a savory pudding made of oats, lamb organ meats and black pepper. Traditionally, the pudding is stuffed into the cleaned stomach of a lamb, poached, and brought to the table amidst great pomp and circumstance that typically includes bag pipes, a ceremonial parade of the haggis and its ritual stabbing with a special knife.
One such celebration takes place here in Santa Rosa, with a Robert Burns Whisky Supper at Jack and Tony’s Restaurant and Whisky Bar (115 Fourth St., Railroad Square) Wednesday, Jan. 25.
The evening begins at 7 p.m., with a first course of Cock-a-Leekie, a soup of chicken, leeks, and prunes, with Speyside whisky. Next comes the haggis, complete with bag pipes, recitations of “Address to a Haggis” and “Ode to a Mouse,” with Highland whisky.
Islands whisky will be served with a main course that includes a choice of roast beef or salmon. “Toast to the Lassies” and its reply, along with a sword dance, will keep you entertained.
For dessert, it’s more whisky — this time, Islay — with cranachan, toasted oats, raspberries, whisky, honey and whipped cream. The evening concludes with everyone singing “Auld Lang Syne.”
Ron Wallace’s Santa Rosa Scottish Highland Dancers will perform throughout the evening, with Wallace playing bag pipes.
If you want to join in the fun, make a reservation by calling 526-4347, and shake out your favorite plaid ensemble — not required, but encouraged.
A Burns Night dinner almost always begins with Cock-a-Leekie, a soup of leeks, chicken, potatoes and rice topped with sliced prunes.
Serves 4 to 8
1 large (4 pounds) whole chicken, rinsed
1 pound leeks, washed thoroughly and cut into 1/2-inch thick diagonal pieces
2 thyme sprigs
— Kosher salt
1 pound small potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
1/2 cup long-grain white rice
— Black pepper in a mill
1 cup whole milk or half-and-half
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
12 prunes, pitted and cut into lengthwise slices
Put the chicken in a large pot.
Set aside the whitest slices of leek and add the rest to the pot, along with the thyme sprigs, a generous tablespoon or so of salt, and enough water to completely cover the chicken. Set over medium heat and when the water simmers, cover the pan, and remove from the heat. Let sit for 1 hour.
Remove the chicken, set it on a clean work surface, and pull the meat from the bones. Put the chicken bones into the pot, set the heat on medium, and simmer gently for about 45 minutes. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.
Meanwhile, chop or tear the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
Gently strain the stock into a clean pot. Add the cooked chicken, the reserved leeks, the potatoes and the rice and set over medium heat. Cook until both the rice and the potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Stir in the milk or half-and-half, remove from the heat and stir in half the parsley.