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Beef ‘olives’ with skirlie.

‘Olives’ of meat appear all over the British Isles but this preparation from Catharine Brown is unusual in three respects. It adds sausage; pork other than bacon and other cures is rarely encountered in the Scots kitchen; and skirlie is rarely encountered outside Scotland. Enough good fastish food for four.



  • 1 lb beef skirt cut into thin strips about 2½ inches wide
  • ½ lb uncased sausage
  • 2 Tablespoons neutral oil or beef dripping if you have it.
  • a diced onion
  • beef stock to a level ¾ of the way up your olives
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Roll some sausage up inside each slice of meat and secure each olive with a toothpick.
  2. Brown the olives in the oil over medium heat in a heavy skillet big enough to hold them in a single layer, remove them and brown the onion dice in turn.
  3. Lay the olives on them and pour over the stock.
  4. Add the stock, bring it to a boil, immediately reduce to a simmer that barely burps a few times a minute and cook the olives until tender, usually in 20 minutes or less.
  5. Take the olives from the pot and keep them warm while you violently boil the stock down to the consistency nearly of a glaze, then season it: Go light on the salt due to the assertive presence of the sausage.
  6. Paint the olives with the sauce and serve them with skirlie and whatever else you choose, but do choose the skirlie.



-The elusive recipe for skirlie, a Scottish staple of marquee stature, appears elsewhere in the practical.

-Brown’s original recipe specifies rump, or round, steak. We find skirt more forgiving but either will do.

-Worcestershire? Hot sauce? Up to you, but do not fuss up the meaty cast of the dish with anything otherwise useful like mushrooms, unless you just cannot resist.