Skirlie is one of those wonderful Scottish words that’s just so descriptive, and my introduction to it was during my vegetarian days when Dad made it as an alternative to stuffing for me on Christmas Day. It is perfect for this purpose, as well as being good for stirring through mash. You can use medium oatmeal and cook for a little less time but I like the nutty, toasty bite of pinhead. You can also use all butter but I prefer the half and half butter and dripping to give a bit of a better structure and I think an authentic throwback flavour. Add a good grinding of black pepper at the end to really bring it to life.
25g beef dripping
1 large onion finely chopped
150g pinhead oatmeal (or medium oatmeal)
Salt and black pepper
- In a heavy based frying pan or sauté pan soften the onions in the dripping over a medium heat, you don’t want to brown them although a little golden colour is fine.
- Add in the oatmeal and stir round to coat then add a large pinch of sea salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Stir for a couple of minutes then turn the heat down as low as it’ll go.
- Keep cooking for around 20-25 minutes (around 10-15 minutes for medium oatmeal) stirring regularly until the oatmeal has softened to a toasty bite when tasted. Correct for seasoning with salt and pepper and serve
First published in Great British Chefs, November 2015