Disney Pixar's Brave inspired dinner- hold the haggis!
Updated: Dec 5, 2020
Just to clarify, haggis is a meat pudding consisting of sheep heart, liver, and lungs all stuffed into a sheep's stomach. It does include onions and some spices. I'm not saying I wouldn't try it, I'm just saying I'm not cooking it today... and don't have immediate plans to cook it. Or try it.
Disney Pixar's Brave is about a Scottish Princess named Merida, and her unwanted betrothal and the path she embarks on to try to change her fate. I absolutely love this movie. Plenty of laughs, tears, and beautiful music! It was released in 2012 and is Pixar's first addition to the princess lineup and features one of my favorite comedians, Billy Connolly, who plays Merida's father King Fergus. I personally think that this movie has one of the best opening scenes. A giant mutant bear, a fearless king, and some eerie Gaelic music...pretty epic if you ask me.
In the movie, at the family dinner, the three brothers are terrified to touch their dinner (hence the haggis business) but when they show King Fergus, he has a giant plate of turkey legs, sausages and all the meat imaginable that could probably feed an army. Merida snatches some cookies from the kitchen and passes them off to her brothers under the table, and they devour them. Needless to say, this scene makes you hungry.
So this meal was inspired by the Clan DunBroch family dinner. We made roasted turkey legs, traditional Scottish sausage rolls, and empire cookies. I put on my Spotify station, Brave: The Original Soundtrack, and got to cookin! Oh and wine. But if you want to stay completely authentic, then pour yourself a glass of scotch whiskey!
This was very simple, roasting pan, melted butter, a few spices, and throw it in the oven. You can absolutely use this recipe for chicken legs/wings too.
These took about an hour including prep, cook time, and rest. They were seasoned well, crispy on the outside, and juicy on the inside! I got these in the oven first before starting the sausage rolls. One important tip! Make sure to pat the legs dry with a paper towel before basting with butter to get that extra crispy skin. All three recipes will be at the bottom of the page.
Next at bat is the traditional Scottish sausage rolls. I looked at a few different recipes and found that some people used pork and beef, while others just used beef. I went with the latter.
I made a gluten free version, and a traditional version. For the gluten free version, I tried to find gluten free puff pastry, which I normally see in the GF frozen section every single time I food shop, but today? Nope. Not at all. So I opted for gluten free pizza dough as a substitute. I also used GF plain bread crumbs. I've never cooked with that particular brand before, but I think next time I might opt for almond flour instead. The GF breadcrumbs are probably better for breading and frying rather than stuffing.
I started with mixing the beef with the bread crumbs, water, and spices.
Then I laid down the pastry dough onto some flour and sliced it into the appropriate sized rectangles for the size sausage I decided to go with. You can make one large sausage roll, medium sized ones, or even cocktail sized rolls depending on preference and occasion.
After forming the beef into a small log shape, I laid the other side of the dough over top and pinched them closed with a little water and a fork. I left the ends open so that things had room to expand and not explode.
Here is my end result! They came out with a crunchy flaky crust, and a juicy meaty center. They also kept well in the fridge for a couple of days!
Finally, the cookies. The cookies. The COOKIES.
These are actually referred to as "empire biscuits" (not a Star Wars reference).
These biscuits are also referred to as "double short bread cookies" and have been a popular Scottish cookie since the early 1900s. They are a thin shortbread cookie sandwich with raspberry jam and an almond frosting, topped with a candied cherry. I make these cookies from scratch along with candying my own cherries. Its very simple and very worth it. My daughter always eats them before they make it to the cookie. I will post an official recipe for them at the bottom of the page, but simply put, its just drained maraschino cherries, simmered in 1/4 cup of the maraschino cherry juice and 3/4 cup of sugar for about an hour. Then you just let them drain and cool before decorating.
I like this recipe because its simple, you don't have to refrigerate the dough after you mix it, and it's pretty workable. The cookie cutter I used this time was on the larger side, probably 3 and a half inches or so, which means less quantity but a larger serving. You can absolutely make smaller cookies to get a little more sharing out of a batch.
After they cool, I spread the raspberry jam in between two cookies, and then I make the icing while they rest a bit. The almond icing is just sugar, water, and almond extract for a light glaze on the surface and really ties in the whole cookie.
We love this movie, the characters, the music, the food and culture, and the humor that comes with it. When we visited the Walt Disney World resort in 2019, we had the pleasure of meeting Merida, or as my at the time two year old daughter called her "Meega". She was warm, kind, and of course, brave.
I hope you enjoy these dishes, and the journey you partake in to get to the eating part!
"Some say our destiny is tied to the land, as much a part of us as we are of it. Others say fate is woven together like a cloth, so that one’s destiny intertwines with many others. It’s the one thing we search for, or fight to change. Some never find it, but there are some who are led."
Turkey Leg Recipe:
6 medium sized turkey legs
1/4 cup of butter or smart balance
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp of fresh cracked pepper
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp poultry seasoning
refined coconut oil spray
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a roasting pan and roasting rack with the refined coconut oil spray.
Pat the turkey dry with the paper towels.
Melt the butter and brush onto the legs. Make sure to let it cool a little before hand.
Rub the seasonings on to the legs and then spray a little bit of oil on the legs to keep the herbs from burning in the oven.
Roast in the oven for about 45-50 mins, checking that the internal temp reaches 165.
Let them rest about 10 mins or so before diving in!
Traditional Scottish Sausage Rolls
2 packages of puff pastry
1 pound of ground beef
1 cup of water (as needed)
1 1/4 tsp of salt
3/4 tsp of fresh cracked black pepper
3/4 tsp of coriander (not fresh cilantro)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup of plain bread crumbs
1 slightly beaten egg white
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mix the meat, spices, bread crumbs, and water, but be careful not to add too much water. The meat should be like a meatloaf texture.
Lay out the puff pastry on a flat floured surface, and cut into rectangles for the appropriate sized desired
Shape the meat into logs of the desired size and lay them onto the individual rectangles.
Lightly dampen one end of the puff pastry and seal shut, pressing it with a fork.
Brush each pastry with some egg whites and place onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.
Bake for about 25 mins, until golden brown
Empire Biscuits (double shortbread cookies)
1/2 cup of smart balance or butter
1/2 cup of white sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 cup of raspberry jam
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
1 tablespoon of hot water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream the butter
Add sugar, creaming well
Beat in the egg and vanilla
Combine the flour and baking powder, then gradually add it to the butter mixture.
On a flat floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness
Cut with desired cookie cutter and place on parchment line cookie sheets. Bake for approx. 10 minutes, the smaller the cookie the less baking time, the larger the cookie the more baking time so be sure to adjust with the size you choose.
Cool on a cooling rack thooroughly
Spread the raspberry jam on half the cookies, then top with a dry cookie.
Mix the confectioners' sugar, warm water and almond extract to make a thin icing.
Frost the top of the cookies and top with a candied cherry
1 16 oz jar of maraschino cherries
3/4 cup of sugar
Pour 1/4 cup of maraschino juice into a small sauce pan and place on medium heat
Add the sugar to the sauce pan and whisk until dissolved
Add the cherries to the sauce pan and bring to a boil
Once it comes to a boil, cover with a lid and reduce to a simmer for about 50-60 mins until cherries are slightly firm and caramelized
Drain the cherries on a rack until cool