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Boiled Silverside

This column is very much in favour of encouraging commemoration of important dates and events in Scottish history which are the bedrock of our identity. Our long history is not very well served by the Scottish educational system and organisations such as The Society of William Wallace and The 1820 Society carry out a very necessary task in reminding Scots of their own history.
This week sees the 288th anniversary of the Battle of Sheriffmuir which took place on 13th November 1715 and the Jacobite group Na Fir Dileas will be holding their annual commemoration of the battle on Saturday 15th November 2003. Period dress and a torchlight march promises a colourful commemoration of the only major engagement on Scottish soil during the Jacobite Rising of 1715. Amongst the speakers will be SNP MSP Jim Mather and the event will be rounded off with a nights entertainment in the Sword Hotel, Stirling, featuring Shiltrum and top Scottish folk duo Gaberlunzie. See The Flag's Events Feature for fuller details.
John 6th Earl of Mar, known as 'Bobbing John', raised the standard of James Francis Edward Stewart, The Old Pretender, on 6th September 1715 at Braemar. He successfully took Inverness and by November occupied the east coast down to Perth and was ready to head for England. During this period John, 2nd Duke of Argyll, Red John of the Battles, raised a pro-Hanoverian force of some 4,000 and moved to block the route past the Forth at Stirling. The two armies met at Sheriffmuir, a little to the north-east of Dunblane, with the Jacobite army having the advantage in numbers - some 10,000 against Argyll's 4,000. Argyll was, however, the more capable comander. In a confused battle both left flanks were defeated leading to the verse :-
                        'There's some say that we wan,
                         And some say that they wan,
                         And some say that nane wan at a', man;
                         But ae thing I'm sure,
                         That at Sheriffmuir
                         A battle there was that I saw, man
                         And we ran and they ran, and they ran and we ran,
                         And we ran and they ran awa' man.'
Mar withdrew to Perth and Argyll to Dunblane and although both sides claimed victory, it was the Jacobite cause that was stopped in its tracks. Mar's failure to crush the smaller army of Argyll effectively signalled the end of the 15 Rising which even the arrival of James Francis Stewart at Peterhead three days before Christmas 1715 could do nothing to revive.  
One of the great mysteries arising from the confused battle was the part played, indeed not played, by Rob Roy MacGregor and his men on the day. They arrived late and took no part in the battle which gave rise to the claim that the Jacobite Rob was in the pay of the Hanoverians - aiblins ay, aiblins no. Rob Roy was however much into cattle,  trading, guarding and reiving and this week's recipe - Boiled Silverside - deserves the best of Scottish beef. Rob Roy would approve of that.

Boiled Silverside

Ingredients : 2 lb (1 kg) silverside; 2 medium-sized carrots, scrapped; 1 small turnip, peeled; 2 medium-sized onions, peeled; 6 black peppercorns; dumplings
Wipe meat with a damp cloth. Tie into a neat round with a piece of string or tape. Place meat in pan and cover with cold water. Bring to boiling point. Skim. Cover and simmer gently until tender, some 2 hours, depending on thickness of cut, then skim again. Rinse carrots, slice and place in saucepan. Slice in turnip and onions. Add peppercorns. Cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add dumplings (see below). Cover and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes. To serve, place meat on the centre of a heated platter. Arrange groups of vegetables and dumplings alternately round. Serve with mashed potatoes. Yield - 6 servings. Can also be served cold. 
Dumplings : Sift 4 oz (100 g) of plain flour with a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder into a basin. Rub in 2 oz (50 g) butter. Mix to a dough with cold water. Divide into small equal-sized portions. Quickly mould each into a large 'marble'.      

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