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Carina Contini Scotsman Recipe

Bowled Over – Soup & Selkirk Bannock

23 January 2016

As published in Weekendlife, The Scotsman, January 2016

Written by: Carina Contini

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.

I’ve never been passionate about poetry. However if a poem could convert me it would most definitely be these few words.  Attributed to Robert Burns but believed to be a 17th C traditional prayer that Burns recited when asked as the honoured guest to give thanks before the meal while dining with the Earl of Selkirk in the late 18thC.  

Most of us associate saying grace as short prayer or thanksgiving for before or after a meal.  Thanking the lord or at least the cook for supper is always a good idea.

I’ve trained the children well, including Victor,to get a thank me for their supper. They say timing is everything  The tone and the speed of the thank you is the monitor of the success of the supper.  The instant thank you is often oh no, this isn’t my favourite so I’ll eat it under duress.   The thank you at the end is ok thank goodness that’s over and I hope we don’t get that for another month.  The thank you after three mouthfuls is the the one I wait and watch for.  Three spoons is enough to calm the hunger and satisfy the taste sensation and just enough time to process this is delicious.  It makes me laugh as I’ve sussed their tactics.  So without even asking I know what the verdict is and the cook loves to cook another meal.  

Medicine soup gets the three spoon thank you every time.  This is my mid week staple that I make every Sunday.  I get at least two meals from it and it makes me feel like a real homely mummy.  

I often make a spatchcock chicken and use the back bone and leg trimmings to make a small pot of stock – just enough for one fix but a pot of soup make with a whole, trimmed, corn fed chicken is a treat.

Selkirk Bannock is also a three bite thank you every time.  The children call it Scottish panettone so the end of January is just the antidote to a long winter month with an alternative to our Italian christmas cake, which now seems like a distant memory.  

1 small corn fed chicken, excess fat trimmed and string removed

approximately 1.5 litre cold water

1 large handful of fresh flat leaf parsley

1 x stalk of celery

generous pinch of salt


This chicken broth is perfect on its own, delicious as a stock for cocaleekie and the perfect base for risotto three dish thank you.

Choose a 2 litre heavy stockpot. Thoroughly wash the chicken then cover with the cold water, add the salt and bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer

Skim off any residue that comes to the surface.  This will take about 5 or 10 minutes until the broth  clears. Taste.  You may need to add a little more salt

Add the celery and parsley. Half cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 2 hours

Carefully remove the chicken, it will have collapsed so the more you can keep it intact the easier to remove the flesh from the chicken to eat separately or reheated in the broth.  Drain the stock into a jug, allow to cool and refrigerate overnight. When the stock solidifies the fat will rise to the surface and can be easily removed. Chicken stock can be very fatty so it’s recommended to make the stock a day in advance.

750ml of chicken stock, chicken reserved from the medicine soup

2 leek, washed trimmed and cut into one centimeter slices, reserve the green stalks and cut very finely

8 prunes, pitted

1 x handful of barley, rinsed

1 bay leaf

6 peppercorns

small handful of flat leaf parsley


Bring the stock to the boil and add the leeks, peppercorns, bay leaf and the barley

Simmer gently for about 45 minutes until the barley is cooked

Add the chicken pieces reserved from the medicine soup, the prunes and the finely cut green stalks

Season wand add a handful of freshly chopped flat leaf parsley

750g strong white bread flour

350 ml milk

125g butter

1 teaspoon of honey

400g of golden raisins

1 egg yolk

50g of golden caster sugar

½ tsp salt

1 heaped teaspoon of fast action dried yeast


Robbie Douglas a baker from Selkirk is believed to have made this very rich fruit bread for Queen Victoria when she visited Sir Walter Scott’s granddaughter at Abbotsford. This is best enjoyed with a cup of tea or with a wee dram to toast two of Scotland’s most celebrated writers Scott and Burns.

Warm the milk, honey and butter in a small pan until the butter has melted and the mixture has reached blood temperature

In a large bowl sieve the flour and salt and add the yeast, sugar and egg yolk.

Add the warm milk and mix until a soft bread mixture has formed.  Kneed for about 5 minutes until smooth using extra flour if required

Transfer to a greased baking bowl and cover with cling film and cover with a clean tea towel

Leave in a toasty warm place to prove for about 1 hour until doubled in size

Knock the dough back and need for a further 5 minutes until elastic in texture.

Slowly add in the raisins and knead until incorporated

Choose a buttered baking sheet and form the dough into two round loaves.

Cover with cling film and a clean tea towel and leave in a cosy spot for about 40 minutes

Gently turn the loaves over and then brush with the remaining egg white

Sprinkle a little water on the tray and transfer to a hot oven and

Bake at 190’C for about 35 minutes until golden and hollow when you knock underneath

Allow to cool on a wire tray

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