In the 15th century, a great battle was in progress at Tongue between the MacKays on one side and the Sutherlands and Murrays on the other. Many of the other clans in the region were expected to participate on behalf of the Sutherlands.
Ivor Matheson chose not to participate as he was new to the area and bore no allegiance to anyone. However his wife was a local with strong Sutherland sympathies and was vexed by her husband's indifference. To show her displeasure, she served Ivor pothead for breakfast on the day of the battle. Upon his asking what prompted such an unusual meal, she replied it was the proper meal for cowards. He left his house in wrath and hurried to join his neighbours at the scene of the battle, only to find that it had ended in defeat for the MacKays.
However, Ivor came across the elderly MacKay chief surveying his lost men
and slew him. Therefore, Ivor became a wanted man and was eventually
captured by a band of
MacKays and executed. An historian of
the 19th century credits
Matheson with the advent of the Gaelic
name for the dish of pothead and also describes it as "a dish which no
person of spirit in this country will deign to taste as it has been
reckoned since Macmahathan's time....."
1 calf's or pig's head
2 diced onions
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp sage or mace
Take calf's or pig's head and brush teeth, remove ears, snout, eyes and reserve the brains. Soak for 6 hours in cold water to extract the blood.
Barely cover with fresh cold water. Add onions, simmer for 2 to 3 hours until meat is ready to fall from the bones. Drain but reserve the stock. Chip the meat off the bones and dice it. Reduce stock by 1/2 and cover the meat with it. Add salt, pepper and sage or mace. Cool for 1/2 hour. Pour into a mold and cover with a cloth. Chill to jell.
Cut into slices and serve with diced cooked brains.
Do not serve it to a
or to a MacKay.
From: Cooking With Our Clan: Clan Matheson Society of Nova Scotia
with permission of Glen Matheson, 1995.