Last January, right around this time, David and I hosted our second annual Burn’s Supper, the traditional Scottish celebration of the life and works of the historic Bard of Scotland, Robert Burns.
That very next morning, we hosted our second Burn’s Breakfast, seeing as our guests from Burn’s Supper, as in the year prior, were still at the house when we woke up.
Yes, not only do I believe that a pattern is emerging, but I think I have identified the culprit.
In my post about our first supper, I spoke of the joy of finally finding a man who would host a Burn’s Night with me.
I had no idea then what I had gotten myself into.
David started planning Burns Supper 2012 most likely the morning after Burns Supper 2011, but adamantly and obsessively – oh, around January 2nd of this past year. While I limited myself to “do you think we could actually squeeze in more people ‘cuz wouldn’t it be fun to invite ______ too?” he was actually designing menu cards, fretting over tablescapes and mentally rearranging furniture. To be honest, he did a spectacular job, but it brought into sharp contrast the extreme differences in our personalities. I’m about the party – he’s about the parts. Overall, it makes for a very successful combination and better him than me.
It’s probably a good idea, in actuality, to have someone putting brakes on me…I would have invited half my facebook friends, all the neighbors, everyone from work and probably an accidental Sasennach or two. As it was, we worked together to create an event just as memorable as the one before, for a select group of friends brave enough to attend.
Flush with our success from the first year’s event, when we conspired to create a truly tasty Neo-Haggis (read: no sheep entrails) and actually edible Neeps-n-Tatties (read: add booze) for our lone, intrepid guest; we scampered recklessly out a culinary limb and invited five people to to the 2012 dinner.
We became a little more adventurous menu-wise as well, upping the ante with an additional course, Cock-A-Leekie. Sounding more like a disease of the enlisted man, this soup is actually a traditional Celtic recipe; the first written records dating as far back as 1598.
I’ll share with you all, as it’s quite tasty, and an admirable addition to your chicken soup repertoire.
Cock-A-Leekie Soup, from the Food Network website:
- 6 pitted prunes (David omitted the them in his version, but I’ll leave them in, since to not do so would be most irregular. Heh.)
4 teaspoons Scotch
One 3 1/2 pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 medium leeks, (light green and white only), halved and cut into 1/2 inch slices
10 sprigs flat- leaf parsley
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
5 cups homemade or canned low-sodium chicken broth
In a small bowl combine the prunes with the Scotch and 2 tablespoons of water and set aside. Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper. Place a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat and melt half of the butter. Saute the chicken on each side until well browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate, and pour off any fat left in the pan. Add the remaining butter to the pan, saute the leeks over medium-low until tender, about 25 minutes.
Tie the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf with a string. Add the herb bundle, the chicken and the broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover and cook the soup for until the chicken is cooked through and tender, about 25 minutes. Remove the chicken, set aside to cool slightly. Remove the herb bundle and discard. Skim any fat from the surface of the soup with a spoon or ladle, if needed. Remove the chicken meat from the bones and cut into 1-inch chunks. Add the chicken cubes, the prunes, and their liquid to the soup. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 2 minutes. To serve divide the soup evenly among 6 warm soup bowls.
Food in the oven, cooking merrily along; table all set and David and I dolled up in our Highland best, we awaited our guests: the ever adventurous Dana and his companion, Troy; married friends and fellow foodies, the couple affectionately known as Tomkitten; and our buddy Hil, always up for cocktails and snacks.
David, who never ceases to amaze me, actually went to the trouble of setting up and taking a formal portrait for each couple as they arrived, sorta like Prom, but cooler and with more plaid (he actually printed the photos out, framed them, and gave them as party swag. My husband rocks.)
As always with our gatherings, we enjoyed a wonderful evening with such fantastic friends. Everyone raved over the food and the wine and scotch flowed freely (yes, you might be sensing the pattern…) David gave another spectacular rendition of the “Address to a Haggis,” Dana provided an eloquent “Toast to the Lassies,” Troy treated us to an acapella song (he has an amazing voice), Tom provided an interpretive dance to “I Could Walk 500 Miles,” and I actually managed to complete my counter-salute to the gentlemen, the “Reply to the Toast to the Lassies.” Further more, upon my rousing invocation of “Down with trousers, up with kilts!” my husband flashed me.
That, lairds and ladies, is a successful dinner party.
Another year has passed and we will be celebrating Burns Supper again this weekend, our third year, which I find absolutely astounding. It’s becoming more of a Scottish-American version of Thanksgiving to me, as I reflect on last year’s event and look forward to the upcoming. I try to count my uncountable blessings: my joyous new marriage, the addition of my parents joining us for dinner this year, and David’s parents “skyping” in; a reprise of almost all of last year’s guests and even more good friends joining the mix for the first time. I am rich indeed, and most grateful for the happiness in my life.
I leave you with some fitting words from the birthday boy himself, and promise to recap our upcoming adventure a little faster this time!
Then catch the moments as they fly,
And use them as ye ought, man:
Believe me, happiness is shy,
And comes not aye when sought, man