When one thinks Scotland, one does not think fine cuisine. Kilts and heather, yes. Bagpipes, various plaids, and clan blood feuds, absolutely. And if you, like so many others, have fallen under the timetraveling spell of either the TV show or the novel series Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, you immediately think of strapping young men whispering to horses and fighting with rapiers while wearing a pleasantly torn shirt.
But food — well, Scotland is perhaps most notable for its national dish, haggis, a stomach-churning dare consisting of a sheep’s stomach stuffed with offal (that’s organ meats), oatmeal, and fat that is boiled for hours. But Scotland is also the home of scones and meat pies and leek dumplings and roasted potatoes. This is all food to stick to your insides after a romp in the heath, to warm your soul against howling winds and the damp of a drafty castle.
Like many period pieces, the Outlander series contains many references to food — because, between all that romping, a girl’s gotta eat. Following heroine Claire and her lover Jamie through the British Isles over to France and through time to postwar Britain and back again, professional chef (and Outlander fan) Theresa CarleSanders created the website www.outlanderkitchen.com, a source for the dishes mentioned in the books and on the show, as well as others that the characters probably devour off-camera as well. And now the website has spawned a book, Outlander Kitchen: The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook (Delacorte Press, 2016) with a foreword by Gabaldon herself.
The recipes are more or less period appropriate, although Carle-Sanders has adjusted them to be easy and appealing to the modern palate — there is no aspic in this book, and nothing requires hours of spit-roasting. The book begins with breakfast, with such dishes as Mrs. FitzGibbon’s Overnight Parrich (a reference to the housekeeper of Castle Leoch) — a traditional preparation of steel-cut oats made with butter and cinnamon, exactly what you’d expect from a Scottish cookbook. There’s also Young Ian’s Sage and Garlic Sausage, an easy-to-follow preparation of breakfast sausage in casing that you can use in the subsequent Bangers and Mash with Slow-Cooked Onion Gravy recipe. It continues along to Mrs. Graham’s Oatmeal Scones with Clotted Cream (the tea-house treat you dream about after watching the latest episode), Fish Pie at the Lillingtons’ (a perfectly traditional British preparation) and, of course, Shepherd’s Pie with ground lamb.
Not all the dishes are Scottish — Claire and Jamie get around over the course of the series. There are English dishes too, like Drunken Mock-Turtle Soup (subbing in oxtail for the endangered species) and Southern dishes like Mr. Willoughby’s Coral Knob (a pimento cheese dip). With Roast Beef for a Wedding Feast, you can even share the dinner Claire and Jamie enjoyed right before getting to know each other in everyone’s favorite chapter of book one. — Tantri Wija