Clootie Dumpling and Sliced Sausage
My parents immigrated to Canada from Scotland 40 years ago. They were the only ones from their respective families to settle in Canada, and as a result, Christmas in my house tended to be a simple, quieter affair, but always full of tradition from the old country. Over the years, our family has grown and things have become a touch more hectic – in-laws, grandchildren, dogs – but my Irish mom has always managed to keep it sane and festive.
It’s all about Christmas Eve in my house. It starts with the annual decision-making about how early we need to leave to get a seat at midnight mass – inevitably we are always the first to arrive. After mass, we settle at home in front of an open fire, exchange a few gifts and, of course, eat and drink until the wee hours of the morning. The food traditions have never changed: Delicious homemade sausage rolls, mince pies, tablet and the ever-present Quality Street chocolates.
When I moved to England last autumn, Christmas was fast approaching and I felt myself longing for the comforts of home – I am sure my parents had a similar experience when they arrived in Canada. As I started my planning, I put in the request to Mom for recipes – at the top of the list was clootie dumpling and sliced sausage.
Clootie dumpling is a delicious Scottish pudding made with flour, raisins, treacle, sugar and spices. It is served hot or cold as a dessert, but my Dad loves to fry leftovers with a little butter for breakfast.
Sliced sausage (also called square sausage) is one of the best-kept Scottish secrets – it is a simple mixture of ground beef, egg and mace. It wouldn’t be Christmas morning without the aroma of flat sausage being fried by my dad.
The week before Christmas, I started to pump out all the old favourites. The dumpling was intimidating, as needs to be steamed in a muslin cloth. I watched my mom make it countless times growing up but never really paid any attention. After two attempts and several emails home, I managed to perfect the dumpling. The sliced sausage was a breeze compared to the dumpling. In fact, I still question how something so simple can taste so good.
This year, I am spending Christmas in Venice and will be sneaking some clootie dumpling and sliced sausage into my duffle for a taste of home on Christmas morning.