Burns Night dates back to 1801, to give homage to the life and works of the great Scottish poet Robbert (Robbie) Burns, and is always celebrated on his birthday, 25th January.
Burns Night is centred around a haggis supper, a toast to honour the poet, and performances of Burns' own poems. The meal is usually followed by a cèilidh. For those who are not sure about trying haggis on its own for the first time, Chicken Balmoral makes an excellent alternative to the traditional haggis supper. I love it, and I hope you enjoy it too.
Preheat the oven to 200c (400F)
Cook the haggis as directed on the packaging. Most haggis comes in log form and can be baked in its casing, or opened & sliced and cooked in the microwave. Once cooked, break up to loosen, and set aside to cool
Take the chicken and make a slit at the largest point of the breast to form a pocket. Take care not to slice the breast in half; you should leave around 1-1.5cm unsliced at the other side
Take the cooked haggis and stuff into each chicken breast. Be careful not to put too much in; the chicken should seal back around the haggis to form a circle of chicken, with the haggis in the middle
Lay the bacon out on a board and place the chicken breast on one end, rolling it to cover and seal the slit in the chicken. Ideally each end of the bacon will be on the underside of the chicken
Lightly fry each chicken breast, so the bacon browns a little, and starts to crisp
Transfer the chicken breasts on to a baking tray and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken breasts). Insert a sharp knife to test if they are cooked - the juice will run clear if they are
While the chicken is baking, prepare and cook any accompanying vegetables and whisky sauce. To serve, slice the chicken breasts in half or in to four thick slices to reveal the haggis inside, and place on a warm plate with the vegetables. Liberally poor whisky sauce over the chicken.
The whisky sauce:
Heat the butter and oil in a small pan over a medium heat until the butter starts to foam and then fry the shallots for approximately 8 minutes, until soft, but not golden
Add the bay leaf and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add 100ml of whisky and simmer until absorbed by the shallots, and almost evaporated
Pour in the stock and simmer for 5-10 minutes until reduced by half
Stir in the cream and simmer for a further 5 minutes, until thickened slightly
Season with salt to taste. Stir in the remaining 20ml of whisky for a slightly stronger flavour.