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Robert Burns Whisky Supper

Where: Jack and Tony’s Restaurant and Whisky Bar, 115 Fourth St., Railroad Square
When: Wednesday, Jan. 25, 7 p.m.
Info: www.jackandtonys.com


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.

Cock-a-Leekie
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.

Robert Burns Whisky Supper

Where: Jack and Tony’s Restaurant and Whisky Bar, 115 Fourth St., Railroad Square
When: Wednesday, Jan. 25, 7 p.m.
Info: www.jackandtonys.com

Taste the soup and correct with salt and pepper. Divide among individual soup bowls or soup plates, garnish each portion with some of the remaining parsley and some of the sliced prunes, and enjoy right away.

___

Haggis was traditionally made with lamb lights — aka lungs — but today you are more likely to see versions with just heart, liver, kidney, and, sometimes, tongue. It is always served with “neeps and tatties,” which is to say, turnips or parsnips and potatoes.

You can get the required organ meats at such locations as Sonoma County Meat Company in Santa Rosa, Victorian Farmstead Meat Co. in Sebastopol and Thistle Meats in Petaluma. It might seem daunting at first, but making haggis is really quite easy and requires no special techniques.

Jack & Tony’s Haggis with Neeps and Tatties
Serves 4

1 lamb heart, cut into pieces
1 lamb liver, cut into pieces
1 lamb kidney, cut into pieces
4 ounces ground lamb or pork
1 onion, grated
1/2 cup oats (not instant)
1/2 cup meat stock (veal, duck, or beef)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 pinch ground clove
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
— Cheesecloth (see Note below)
— Kitchen twine
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 ounces butter
3 turnips or parsnips, peeled and diced

Fill a medium saucepan half full with water or stock and set over high heat. When the water boils, reduce the heat to low.

Put the heart, liver, and kidney into the work bowl of a food processor and pulse several times until the meat is uniformly chopped. Add the ground lamb or pork and pulse again. Turn the mixture into a medium mixing bowl, add the onions, oats, stock, thyme, clove, and salt and mix thoroughly, using your hands or a sturdy wooden spoon. Add the pepper and mix again.

Set several layers of cheesecloth on top of each other, arranging them to form a large (16 to 18 inches) circle or square. Set the meat mixture in the center and use your hands to press it together. Wrap the cheesecloth so that the mixture is fully enclosed in several layers. Tie firmly but not too tightly with kitchen twine, making a neat package.

Carefully set the haggis into the simmering liquid and cook it for one hour at about 185 degrees (it should just barely simmer). (If made in advance, cool in the poaching liquid, transfer to an ovenproof dish, and reheat in a 325 degree oven before serving).

While the haggis cooks, prepare the vegetables. Put the potatoes into a small saucepan, cover with water, season with salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Drain the potatoes, set the pan back on the heat, and evaporate any water that lingers. Add 4 ounces of the butter and use a fork or small vegetable masher to mash the potatoes. Taste, correct for salt, cover and keep warm.

Put the turnips or parsnips into a small saucepan, cover with water, season with salt, and cook until not quite tender, about 8 minutes. Drain thoroughly. Put the remaining butter into the pan, return it to medium heat, and sauté until fully tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, cover, set aside and keep warm.

To serve the haggis, put it in a sturdy serving dish and add the potatoes and turnips or parsnips alongside. Plunge a carving knife directly into the haggis, holding it above and plunging downward. (If you can have bag pipe music playing as you do this, do it!)

Divide among individual plates, add the “neeps and tatties” alongside, and enjoy, preferably with good Scotch whisky alongside.

Michele Anna Jordan is author of the new “Good Cook’s” series. Email her at michele@micheleannajordan.com and visit her blog at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.