Warm, Reakin’, Rich!
In case you were wondering just now - as I'm sure you were - Robbie Burns Day or as it's also known, Burns Night, is celebrated on January 25th. Robbie Burns was a bit of a scamp. He enjoyed a good party, a bevvie or two, had legions of lady friends and unclaimed wee bairns, but I'm not going to hold that against him; they were different times after all, and the man clearly had his charms. I bet he could chat 'em up like there was no tomorrow. And just look at those beseeching doe eyes!
Hubba, hubba! How about those mutton chops, eh?
Burns celebrations usually involve haggis, but I'm not going to bleat on (get it, bleat...like a sheep?) about haggis again this year. I just wanted to say "warm, reekin', rich!" because it sounds so good, doesn't it? "Warm, reekin', rich!" Leave it to Burns to say it like it is, deliciously stinky blood and guts and all. I invite you to read the whole Address to a Haggis, in both Scottish and English - yes, there's a difference - put on your best Scottish brogue, it makes it even more sumptuous!
Scottish Grungy Flag re-posted from www.deviantart.com
No, this Burns Day I’m going to be waving my Scottish flag over a couple of non-haggis-y things - scotch and sausage - which are two perfectly wonderful excuses to claim my Scottish blood. (Mmm...blood… Have I ever mentioned I started most of my childhood mornings with a proper fry-up of eggs, sausage, bacon, toast, and blood pudding? Ah, the good old days.)
As I was saying; scotch and sausage, together at last. The good folks at Highland Park and The Healthy Butcher have teamed up to create some serious yumminess, and they were nice enough to send me a package of their scotch-infused red deer sausage...and a wee dram, of course!
I wanted to cook up something special yet easy to make with them, so here you have it, and for just this one night - Scottish or not - celebrate the man who gave us Auld Lang Syne! as well as hundreds of Scots, living today!
I'm a country girl; I've seen many a toad. They didn't look like this.
Juniper Berry, Scotch & Venison Toad in the Hole
A decidedly grown up play on this classic British dining hall lunch, I switched out ye olde bangers for The Healthy Butcher’s super-sophisticated Highland Park Scotch-infused venison sausage. Toad in the Hole is really rather like a savoury Dutch Baby pancake, relying on hot air for puffiness, so get that oven hot and use a good heavy pan – I prefer cast iron.
2 Tbsp (30 mL) flavour-neutral vegetable oil, such as soy, canola, or corn
6 sausages at room temperature
3 free-run or pasture-raised eggs
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ tsp (1 mL) fine sea salt
¼ tsp (1 mL) white or black pepper
1 tsp (5 mL) dried juniper berries, crushed
1 cup (250 mL) whole grass-fed milk; I like Rolling Meadows
Preheat oven to 425F (220C)
Add the oil to a 10-inch (25 cm) - give or take a couple of inches is ok - high-sided cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven; add sausages and brown, turning often for about 10 minutes. Make the batter while sausages are browning.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, flour, salt, pepper, and juniper. It will be thick; add the milk, a bit at a time, whisking until it resembles a smooth pancake batter.
Arrange the sausages around the skillet in a nice even and attractive way for easy portioning at the table and all 'round good looks, and pour the batter over them. Immediately transfer to hot oven; bake for about 20 - 25 minutes or until nicely puffed and golden around the edges. And just like you were making a soufflé, do NOT open the oven door or hold an impromptu stomping contest in the kitchen, lest it fall flat!
Serve immediately with much fanfare, some gravy, a little green salad and a wee dram, ‘natch!
Not into sausages? Fine, be like that; how about some shortbread instead? Scotch and shortbread; also very good together.
And, lest you doubt my affection for amphibians....
...and no, he did not turn into my Prince Charming! Photo: Amy Wilson