Crab for Burns Night

Burns Night has become quite the popular tradition.  A night of haggis and whisky and poetry that humbly began as nine friends who got together five years after Rabbie’s death for a dinner in his honour. They couldn’t have had any idea that over 200 years later it would be still be being celebrated each January 25th.

Partan Pie makes a good Burns Night starter (or a warming winter snack / supper on any chilly night). Partan is the Scottish word for crab. The Scottish coast – and particularly Fife – is reknowned for its fantastic crabbing. The ‘pie’ would traditionally have been made by extracting all the meat from the crab, doing some wonderful things to it to make it taste even better, and then piling the meat back into the crab shell to be cooked or grilled. This simpler version uses bought crab-meat and is made in a ramekin.

Partan Pie (for 4)

Mix 400g crabmeat (half and half brown to white) with 1 tbsps white wine vinegar, 2 tbsps Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp chopped parsley, a good squeeze of lemon, 1/4tsp grated nutmeg and salt & pepper to taste. Pile all this into buttered ramekins.

Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top and cook at 190C for 15/20 mins until hot and browned.


Follow up with the steamed haggis that is the mainstay of a Burns supper, some oatcakes, a mash of swede turnip ‘neeps’ and another of tatties.  If you add into that some chopped chives you’ve got the traditional dish of Orkney clapshot. The herbs give a pleasing onion-ness to break up the heaviness of the meat and mash, and their green flecks manage to brighten the plate up too.

A tot of whisky and you are all set.

Happy Birthday, Mr Burns.

Robert Burns stamp

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