Monday, January 20, 2014

Prairie Kitchens - Turnip Casserole

January 25 is Robbie Burns day, a celebration brought to Saskatchewan by Scottish adventurers and pioneers. Robbie Burns (1759-1796) is the national poet of Scotland who immortalized in verse that most honoured of Scottish foods, the haggis.

In his poem Address to a Haggis, Burns wrote: "Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware that jaups in luggis, But if you wish her gratefu' prayer, Gie her haggis!" Translation: Old Scotland wants not watery soup that slops in the bowl, But if you wish her grateful prayer, give her haggis!

Traditional haggis is a mix of sheep's pluck (heart, liver and lungs) mixed with suet, oatmeal and spices, stuffed into a sheep's stomach and simmered for a few hours. Nowadays, haggis is more commonly made with ground beef, liver and oat groats and baked in an oven cooking bag.

For the annual Robbie Burns Day supper, Marj Scharf of Saskatoon and a team of cooks prepare 100 pounds of haggis, serving it with tatties and neeps – mashed potatoes and turnips. Her father, George Galoway, came to Saskatchewan from Scotland in 1906 when he was five. However, Marj didn't grow up with Scottish foods. She has reconnected to her Scottish heritage by learning the traditional recipes, which she shares in the cookbook A Taste of Time created by the Saskatoon Council on Aging with the help of many seniors who contributed their stories and recipes.

It includes this recipe for turnip casserole, which is a favourite "neeps" side dish for haggis. Want to make haggis? You'll find Marj's recipe for haggis here.

Turnip Casserole
1 medium turnip
1/2 cup applesauce
2 tsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp pepper
1 egg
1 cup soft bread crumbs
5 tbsp melted butter

Cook, peel and mash turnip. Mix in applesauce, brown sugar, pepper, egg, 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs and 3 tbsp butter. Put in a greased baking dish. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup breadcrumbs and 2 tbsp butter. Spread on top of turnips. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

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