Celebrate Scotland’s natural larder and many of the country’s food traditions in our interview with the award-winning chef and Edinburgh-born restaurateur, Roberta Hall-McCarron, who speaks of winning SquareMeals Female Chef Awards last year and the age-old Scottish tradition of Burns Night.
Scotland’s Natural Larder
How has your childhood in Scotland inspired your cooking?
Holidays growing up were often on the west coast of Scotland sailing, where I was introduced to fresh fish and shellfish from an early age. The produce we have available in Scotland is incredible and I try to use it whenever I can.
My dads family business was a meat manufacturing factory that made pies, sausages, haggis, sausage rolls, and many other things. It's rare that I don’t have a pie or haggis on the menu in some form.
How did it feel to win SquareMeals Female Chef Awards?
Incredible, I really didn’t expect to win. I was very honoured and humbled to even be shortlisted, never mind win among so many talented women.
What do you enjoy most about Falcon in and around your kitchen?
It’s very robust, and functional, but effortlessly elegant and timeless. Traits I look for in kitchenware but often find hard to come by.
Can you tell us more about Eleonore in Edinburgh?
Eleanore is my second restaurant and is the fun, casual little sister to my first restaurant, The Little Chartroom. We offer a concise set menu and take influence from all around the world whilst celebrating Scottish produce. The team delivers a warm, friendly service and always ensures no one leaves hungry or thirsty.
What does Burns Night mean to you?
Burns night is a cool Scottish tradition. I’m not into poetry but do enjoy a Burns Supper. The chance to have a massive plate of haggis, neeps and tatties while getting merry with friends is too good to pass up. Watching the haggis get piped in and addressed never gets old.
Are there any local companies you'd like to shoutabout? Where do you usually eat, drink, and source ingredients in your local area?
I like to get my coffee from Little Fitzroy, the coffee is consistently excellent and they all really care about what they do.
Nauticus is a great local bar. It blends the feeling of a traditional pub and a world class cocktail bar seamlessly.
Hobz Bakery do the most amazing pastries. The chocolate and almond croissant is something to behold.
McDuff beef have an incredible range of specialized beef, lamb and pigs.
Castle Game are wonderful for game especially venison.
MERGUEZ LAMB PIE
Lamb trim – 400g
Lamb stock – 1lt
Bay leaves – 3
Thyme – small bunch
Garlic cloves – 4
Sunflower oil – for cooking
Boneless Lamb Shoulder – 1kg
Onions – 3
Smoked Paprika – 1 tsp
Black Pepper – pinch
Ground Cumin – 1 tsp
Fennel Seeds – 2tsp
Ground Cayenne Pepper – 1tsp
Nigella Seeds – 2 tsp
Salt – pinch
Harissa – 3 tbsp
Tomato Puree – 1 tbsp
Leeks – 1
Rough Puff Pastry
Plain Flour – 330g
Cold Butter – 165g
Salt – 1tsp
Egg Yolk – 2
Milk – 3 tbsp
Water – 50g
Egg wash – 2 egg yolks
Baby Gem lettuce – 2 heads
Sea Salt - pinch
Buttermilk – 4 tbsp
Crème Fraiche – 4 tbsp
Olive Oil – 1 tsp
White wine vinegar – 1 tsp
Salt – pinch
Sugar - pinch
Trim the lamb shoulder, removing any skin or sinew (cut it small and add it to the lamb trim)
Cut the lamb trim into small pieces, brown off in a pot, drain off any fat that’s produced in a sieve or colander.
Place the meat back in the pot and deglaze with some of the lamb stock (scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon) pour the rest of the stock in.
Add the bay leaves, thyme, and garlic to the stock.
Allow the stock to gently simmer for 1 hour.
Mix the flour and salt together.
Dice the butter into small pieces, add to the flour and mix with your hands- rubbing the flour until all the butter is incorporated and it’s like breadcrumbs. (This can also be done in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment)
Mix the egg yolks, water, and milk together, add to the flour mix.
Mix until it forms a dough, divide into 2 pieces and shape into cylinders, flatten slightly and wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
Lamb Pie Mix
Cut the Lamb shoulder into 1-inch pieces, brown off in a pot. Take out and keep for later.
Peel and thinly slice the onions, gently sweat in the same pot after 5 minutes add in all the spices, seeds, and salt. Cook for 5 minutes.
Add in the harissa and tomato paste, cook for a few minutes. Place the lamb shoulder back in the pot with the onions.
Strain the lamb stock, and skim off any fat that has collected with a ladle then add to the lamb. Gently simmer for 1 – 1 ½ hours until the lamb is tender.
Quarter the leeks and chop into 1cm pieces, add to the lamb, cook for 5 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C.
Roll both pieces of pastry to ½ cm thickness, turn the pie dish upside down and place it on top of the pastry, allow for an extra 1 1/2 inches and cut around the dish. (Keep the scraps)
Separate the pie mix into both dishes and cover with pastry, pinching it underneath the edges.
Brush the pastry with egg wash.
Make a hole in the centre to place a chimney in – if you don’t have one, tinfoil works very well – fold a small piece over and roll it around a pen, insert it into the hole.
Optional extra – I like to garnish my pastry with shapes of pastry, and it’s a great way to use up any excess pastry. Brush them with egg wash as well.
Place in your oven for 20-25 minutes.
Whisk all the ingredients together. Separate the leaves, wash and drain in a colander. Season with sea salt, drizzle with buttermilk dressing.