"The Auld Alliance and its Influence on Scottish Cuisine"

by Gail Kilgore

The French have had a great deal of influence in Scotland for many years. This had its beginnings with a treaty between Scotland and France signed by William the Lion in 1165. Among other things, this "Auld Alliance" granted duel citizenship in both countries. This convenience made for easy travel between them, and by its very nature, made the exchange of social/cultural customs a natural occurrence. These influences are still very much in evidence in today’s Scotland from architecture, to law, vocabulary, philosophy, and the subject of this article---the cuisine of Scotland.

In 1538, Marie de Guise Lorraine married James V of Scotland. She brought with her, from France to the court of Scotland, the delights of French cuisine. Some of the cooking methods and names of dishes, still popular in Scotland today, come from this time period. Of course, Marie de Guise Lorraine’s major contributions to Scotland were her daughter, Mary Queen of Scots, and grandson, James VI.

So, very appropriately, our first recipe is thought to have come from Marie de Guise Lorraine:

Lorraine Soupe

2 C chicken or veal, finely chopped

2 oz. blanched almonds

7 C chicken stock

1 T white breadcrumbs

2 hard-boiled egg yolks, crumbled

C cream

lemon juice to taste

1 T chopped parsley

pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

Mix the meat, almonds, breadcrumbs, egg, then add chicken stock. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper and lemon juice, to taste. Bring the soup to the boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cream. Reheat, but do not boil. Serve garnished with chopped parsley.

The French word "escalope", meaning thin slivers of meat, brings us Minced Collops, a very popular dish:

Minced Collops:

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 oz. toasted oatmeal

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1-2 T vegetable oil

1 C stock or broth

1 small can mushrooms, very finely chopped

2-3 T Worcestershire sauce

Heat the oil in a pan, and then add onions and saute until golden brown. Add the ground beef and cook until brown. Toast oatmeal either: under broiler or bake until golden brown---must watch very carefully so does not burn. Add oatmeal to mixture, season to taste, then add the stock. Cover and simmer gently for hour. Add mushrooms and Worcestershire sauce, stir well. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Our next French word, "etouffer", to stew in a closed vessel, describes a cooking method commonly used in Scotland. The name, "Stovies" comes directly from "etouffer".


4 - 6 potatoes

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

salt and pepper to taste

2 oz. butter or meat drippings

1 hot water or stock

Melt butter or drippings in pan. Peel and thickly slice the potatoes, place in pan with onions. Toss in the fat for w few minutes. Add the stock or water, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are soft and the moisture is almost absorbed. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Our next recipe also comes from "etouffer", and also from "hutaudeau", meaning a pullet or young hen:

Stoved Howtowdie

Stuffing Ingredients:

6 oz. oatmeal

1 medium onion, chopped

2 oz. melted butter

1 tsp. each, tarragon and parsley

pinch paprika

salt and pepper to taste

Remaining Ingredients:

3 lb. roasting chicken

C butter

6 to 8 boiling onions

pinch nutmeg

6 black peppercorns

3 whole cloves

3 whole allspice

2 C chicken stock

2 lb. spinach

2 T heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in pan, add onion; cook until soft. Stir in oatmeal, add remaining stuffing herbs and spices. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little milk if mixture is too dry. Stuff bird and fix with a skewer. Place 1 oz. butter in large casserole or Dutch oven. Melt butter, browning chicken lightly, Add onions, nutmeg, peppercorns, cloves, and allspice to the pot. Add chicken stock, cover and cook slowly over low heat for 1 to 2 hours, or until done. Meanwhile, cook the spinach in a separate pan, drain and keep hot. Remove chicken from pot, and strain off stock into an empty saucepan. Add cream and remaining butter (cut up into pats) into stock. Reheat, but do not boil. Place chicken on serving dish, place spinach around edge. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

"Gigot" is the French word for leg of mutton or lamb:

Gigot of Lamb

4 - 5 lb. leg of mutton or lamb

2 onions

2 carrots

1 sprig rosemary

1 bay leaf

6 black peppercorns

sprig of parsley and thyme


milk to cover

Place the lamb in a deep pan and pour milk ’s of the way up the pan. Add onions, carrots, herbs and season to taste. Cover and bring to the boil, then simmer for 2-3 hours or until meat is tender.

And, lastly, we have Petticoat Tails, which is one of the many shortbread recipes. One theory of their origin is from "petites gatelles" or little cakes of which, it is said, Mary Queen of Scots was very fond.

Petticoat Tails

1 C flour

3 T sugar

C butter

4 T milk

2 tsp. caraway (optional)

Mix caraway, if used, with the flour. Melt the butter in the milk, then make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the milk mixture and then the sugar. Mix well, and knead lightly. Place on a floured board and roll out to inch thickness, into a circle. Place on a greased baking sheet and then crimp the edges with your finger and thumb. Then prick all over with a fork. Cut across the circle diagonally into 8 pieces. Do not cut through the paste, but make a deep incision. Bake 20 minutes at 350 F until crisp and golden. Cool and dust with sugar. Break the circle into the 8 pieces as marked.

Some of the above recipes I have personally prepared on site as demonstrations for Historic Highlanders which, ultimately, became our lunch! Some of the recipes I also prepare at home as favorites of our family. I hope you try them, and, most of all, enjoy…..Bon Appetite!




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