But now, for the first time, Scotland’s patron saint is set to be celebrated with a menu that features equally indigenous seasonal ingredients of fish, lamb, cream and fruit.
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Cullen skink, roast lamb with potatoes and kale, and rice pudding with spiced local fruits, feature in the Scottish Government’s new national St Andrew’s Day menu, devised by leading chef Andrew Fairlie.
It will feature at various Scottish Government events dedicated to celebrating Scotland’s national day and it is hoped the meal will be prepared and eaten by Scots with their families and friends every year in the days leading up to November 30.
Mr Fairlie, the Perth-born chef-patron of Scotland’s only two-Michelin starred restaurant at Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, said: “St Andrew was instru- mental in the feeding of the five thousand and I hope my new menu will encourage Scots to eat together and celebrate our patron saint’s day with the best of local produce.
“My St Andrew’s Day menu uses good traditional Scottish ingredients that are very easy to prepare and readily available in butchers’ shops and supermarkets. The rice pudding, although the only part of the meal that uses an imported ingredient, reminds me of childhood.”
Mr Fairlie, who was at Hotel Du Vin in Glasgow yesterday having lunch cooked by pupils from Cleveden Secondary taking part in Glasgow’s 15th Culinary Excellence Programme, added: “Although it is abundant in this country, Scots don’t eat much lamb, although consumers down south do and are happy to pay more for Scotch than for English.
“I have used a cheaper cut here to encourage more people to buy it. It takes about three hours to slow roast, which hopefully will encourage people to socialise and eat while it’s cooking.”
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead last night told the Herald: “This is the perfect launch for our winter festival.
“It’s a good hearty meal full of great Scottish ingredients.
“We’re inviting families the length and breadth of the country to use our St Andrew’s Day menu on November 30, or to concoct their own version.
“We hope it inspires them to celebrate our great patron saint with the best of Scotland’s larder.”
Asked whether he thought his St Andrew’s Day menu might become more popular than Burns Night haggis and neeps, Mr Fairlie replied: “I’m not sure how many Scottish people actually like haggis. I think it’s become a bit of a cliche. I hope my menu celebrates new season Scotch lamb in the tastiest way.”
Donald Biggar, chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, welcomed the national menu. “Scotch lamb is at its most succulent during autumn making it a perfect choice for a St Andrew’s Day menu,” he said.
“We hope consumers who haven’t cooked Scottish lamb for a while will enjoy rediscovering it is simple to prepare and delicious to share with friends and family.”
Although St Andrew’s Day is officially a bank holiday in Scotland, entitlement to have a day off depends on your employer. However November 30 also heralds the start of Scotland’s Winter Festivals, a programme of more than 60 events celebrating modern culture, traditions, history and food and drink.
Dozens of Historic Scotland sites are taking part in a free weekend on November 27 and 28, including Edinburgh Castle, Melrose Abbey and the Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae.
Some of Scotland’s other top visitor attractions including the Wallace Monument will also be offering reduced entry rates on St Andrew’s Day.
History of Scotland’s patron saint
1. St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland. He is also patron saint of fishmongers, singers, sore throats, gout, spinsters, maidens, old maids and women who want children.
2. Andrew means “manly” or “strong”.
3. Andrew was a Galilean fisherman. He brought the first foreigners to meet Jesus and shamed a large crowd of people into sharing their food with the people beside them.
4. Having St Andrew as patron saint gave Scotland several advantages: because he was the brother of St Peter, founder of the Catholic Church, the Scots were able to appeal to the Pope in 1320 (The Declaration of Arbroath) for protection against the attempts of English kings to conquer them.
5. Before the Battle of Athelstaneford in 832AD the High King of Alba and the King of Dalriada prayed to St Andrew, and next morning a formation of white clouds lay in the form of a cross set against the blue sky. They won and their Northumbrian opponent Athelstan was killed. From that time St Andrew and his Saltire Cross were adopted as the national symbols for an emerging Scotland
6. The many St Andrew Societies worldwide were set up originally as self-help organisations for Scots who had fallen on hard times.
St Andrew’s Night: the Nation’s Menu
Ingredients: 1tbsp olive or vegetable oil, 1 leek, chopped and cut into rough 2cm cubes, 1 litre fish stock, 200g of peeled waxy potatoes cut into 2cm cubes, 300g undyed smoked haddock fillet, 1 bay leaf, freshly ground pepper.
2tbs whipping cream, roughly chopped chives.
Warm the oil in a pan, add the chopped leek, cover and gently cook for a few minutes until soft. Add the stock, bay leaf, potato and haddock. Season lightly with black pepper.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove the haddock with a slotted spoon. When the fish is cool enough to handle, remove any skin and bones, then flake back into the pan.
Liquidise a ladle-full of the soup and return to the pan.
Stir in the double cream and simmer for another 2 or 3 minutes.
Add more black pepper if necessary, then sprinkle with the chopped chives and servewith chunks of wholemeal or granary bread.
Roast shoulder of lamb with potato &onion
Ingredients: 1 x 1.5kg to 2 kg shoulder of lamb, trimmed of excess fat, 1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil, 4 medium onions, sliced, 4 cloves garlic, crushed, 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped, 2 kg potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced,1 litre lamb stock.
Pre heat oven to 240 C/ 475 F/ Gas 9.
Season the lamb with pepper and roast in a medium roasting tray for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 180 C/350F/Gas 4.
Remove the lamb from the tray and pour off excess fat.
While the lamb is roasting, heat the oil in a pan, add the onions, cover and cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook, lid off, for a further 5 minutes. Remove the onions from pan.
Lay a layer of potatoes into the roasting tray and lightly season with black pepper.
Lay one-third of the cooked onions on to the potatoes, repeat until you have three or four layers of potatoes and onions.
Bring the lamb stock to the boil and pour over the potatoes, press down with a spoon until the potatoes are all submerged. Place the lamb on top and return to the oven and for 3 hours.
Serve with seasonal vegetables.
Spiced winter fruit served with creamed vanilla rice pudding
Ingredients: 100g Arborio rice, 50g caster sugar,1 vanilla pod, 500 ml semi-skimmed milk, 100ml whipping cream.
Pre Heat Oven 150C/300F/ Gas 2.
Mix milk and sugar in pan over a gentle heat.
Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds.
Add the pod and the seeds to the milk and sugar, bring to a simmer.
Stir in the rice, cover with greased baking paper and place into the oven for 50 minutes.
Remove and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the pod then fold in the whipping cream.
Ingredients: 1 apple and 1 pear, cored and cut into eight; 2 plums, stoned and cut into four, 12 ripe brambles,100g sugar,1 vanilla pod,2 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick.
Put pan on to medium/high heat. Add sugar and heat the sugar until it liquidises and turns a pale caramel colour. Add apples, pears and plums, and cook until the fruit is lightly coloured. Remove from heat then add brambles.
Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds.
Add the pod and the seeds to the fruit with the cinnamon and star anise.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until the fruit is just soft. Remove and add the brambles.
Pour the rice pudding into warmed bowls and serve with the winter fruits in the syrup on the side.