Unlike St. Patrick's Day (its over-hyped, beat-to-death second cousin once removed) Burns Night is a holiday that could use a little PR boost. A quick intro for the uninitiated -- every year on poet Robert Burns' birthday (January 25th), lovers of all things poetic and Scottish come together to share a meal and toast (many times over, and make it a single-malt, please) the man himself. At least a few of his colorful poems are read aloud, preferably in a deep, rollicking Scottish brogue.
While haggis is the most traditional star of the show, we aren't always up for tracking down a sheep's stomach last minute, and as we assume you aren't either (bully for you if you are, though!). In light of that, we've lined up some crowd-and-cook-friendly ideas for your own Burns supper, inspired by Scotland's enviable bounty of salmon and shellfish. Salty nibbles of Smoked Salmon Mousse on hearty rye toasts kick things off, a lovely foil for your favorite firey whisky. Amanda Hesser's silky Bay Scallop Chowder warms and comforts, while Salmon Kedgeree brings a much-needed jolt of fresh cilantro and ginger spice. Merrill Stubbs' gorgeous Black Tea Jelly ends the night on a refreshing and delicately tannic note.
Whether you're tired of winter and find yourself longing for the warm celebratory hum of the holidays, or simply want to see all of your friends in kilts, we think that hosting a Burns night is a marvelous winter tradition worth taking on.
Does this post have you craving more salmon and scallops? Check out 21 of our favorite seafood recipes. Or maybe you're dreaming of oatmeal-laden foods that will give you the strength to wander the Highlands playing on your finest bagpipes? Cruise through some of Food52's oatmealiest dishes now!