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Angus Steak Pudding

In any other country, world-wide, Independence Day would be marked with a National Day of commemoration and celebration, but not in Scotland, as a submerged Nation in the Incorporating Union of 1707 with England. The Unionist dominated Scottish Executive in the Scottish Parliament, with less power than the Manx Tynwald, occasionally makes ‘nationalist’ sounds but when it comes to the bit will do nought to upset their ‘British’ masters! The date 6 April is a case in point. Now celebrated abroad as Tartan Day, here in Scotland a day which marks our National Freedom is paid little establishment attention. On 6 April 1320 the Scottish nobility attached their seals to a historic Declaration of Scottish Independence. The letter from Arbroath Abbey, written by Scottish Chancellor Bernard de Linton, to Pope John XXII, called on him to recognise Scottish freedom and marked the emergence of Scotland as the first nation State in Europe in the modern sense. In part the letter said

“Him (Robert I, King of Scots) also the Divine Providence and according to our laws and customs which we will maintain even to death, the succession of right and the due consent and assent of us all, have made our Prince and King; to whom as to him by whom deliverance has been wrought for our people, we for the defence of our liberty are bound both by right and by his deserts, and are determined in all things to adhere. But if he were to desist from what he has begun, wishing to subject us or our kingdom to the King of England or the English, we would immediately endeavour to expel him as our enemy and the subverter of his own rights and ours, and make another king who should be able to defend us. For so long as a hundred remain alive, we will never in any degree be subject to the dominion of the English. Since it is not for glory, riches or honour that we fight but for liberty alone which no good man loses but with his life.”

Several centuries later the sentiments of the Independence Declaration made at Arbroath were echoed in and inspired the American Declaration of Independence in 1776,

Arbroath Abbey, where the nobles gathered in support of the letter to the Pope, should be a National Shrine as the home of Scottish freedom. The ruined Abbey is now under the care of Historic Scotland and is among the many attractions included in The Historic Scotland Free Weekend (1 & 2April 2006) and hopefully many Scots will take the opportunity of a FREE visit to this historic spot. Visit www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/spring for full details of the FREE weekend which gives access to some 70 historic attractions (castles, abbeys and ancient monuments).

Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society are to be congratulated on marking the event every year, and as funds allow, presenting every few years a Pageant bringing alive the full panoply of 1320. On Thursday (6 April 2006) the Pageant Society stage a horseback procession up Arbroath’s historic High street and the world premier of ‘The Stane’ – the story of Scotland’s destiny – at the Arbroath Abbey forecourt (1,20pm).

Arbroath is in Angus and SNP-controlled Angus Council is to be congratulated in drawing attention to the area’s rich history and reminding our fellow Scots of same. Angus also gives us this week’s recipe – Angus Steak Pudding – a dish worthy of a National Celebration.

Angus Steak Pudding

Ingredients:  ½ kg (1 lb) suet crust; ¾ kg (1 ½ lb) round steak; 2 tablespoons flour; 1 teaspoon salt; ¼ teaspoon black pepper; 20-0 g (8 oz) ox kidney; 2 tablespoons minced onion; beef stock or water as required.

Method:  Line a greased pudding basin, about 20 cm (8 in) across. Thinly with rolled out suet crust. Trim edges with a sharp knife and make the trimmings into a lid to fit the top. Wipe steak with a damp cloth. Trim off any fat . Cut meat into thin slices, about 8 cm (3 in) square or 5-6 cm (2-2 ½ in) oblong. Beat lightly on a chopping board. Mix the flour with the salt and freshly ground pepper. Dip meat in flour. Cut ox kidney, skinned and cored, into tiny pieces, and place one and a niblet of fat on each piece of meat. Roll up. Pack into lined basin. Sprinkle with the onion, then add enough beef stock or water to come three-quarter way up the basin, Brush edge of pastry with cold water. Cover with pastry lid. Cover with a round of greased paper. Tie down securely. Cover with a pudding cloth. Steam for 3 ½ - 4 hours, If cooked in a saucepan of boiling water instead of in a steamer, keep replenishing with boiling water when necessary. Remove paper and cloth. Place basin on a platter. Pin a folded napkin neatly round. Serve with mashed potatoes and any green vegetable, 6 portions.

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