As we prepare to celebrate Robert Burns in the Steamlands of Second Life™ on January 22, 2011 (as noted in my personal blog), I wanted to share with you both a traditional Scottish haggis recipe as well as a modern haggis recipe in the event that you would enjoy celebrating the Bard of Scotland in your own real life home. Perhaps you have always wanted to try haggis, but were put-off by the sheep organs that must be used as part of the traditional recipe.
It is a shame that the “Great chieftain o’ the puddin’ race” should be regarded (by some) with such a mixture of horror and humor. The vision of sheep’s stomachs and other intestines seems to send people running the other direction, but it has long been a traditional way of using up parts of the animal which otherwise might go to waste. Made properly, it is a tasty, wholesome dish, with every chef creating his or her own recipe to get the flavor and texture that suits them. Personally, I like a haggis which is spicy from pepper and herbs, with a lingering flavor on the palate after it has been consumed.
Finding a butcher who can supply sheep’s heart, lungs and liver may not be easy although nowadays beef bung (intestine) is often used instead of sheep’s stomach.
Traditional Scottish Haggis
- Set of sheep’s heart, lungs and liver (cleaned by a butcher)
- One beef bung
- 3 cups finely chopped suet
- One cup medium ground oatmeal
- Two medium onions, finely chopped
- One cup beef stock
- One teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- One teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon mace
Trim off any excess fat and sinew from the sheep’s intestine and, if present, discard the windpipe. Place in a large pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for an hour or possibly longer to ensure that they are all tender. Drain and cool.
Some chefs toast the oatmeal in an oven until it is thoroughly dried out (but not browned or burnt!)
Finely chop the meat and combine in a large bowl with the suet, oatmeal, finely chopped onions, beef stock, salt, pepper, nutmeg and mace. Make sure the ingredients are mixed well. Stuff the meat and spices mixture into the beef bung which should be over half full. Then press out the air and tie the open ends tightly with string. Make sure that you leave room for the mixture to expand or else it may burst while cooking. If it looks as though it may do that, prick with a sharp needle to reduce the pressure.
Place in a pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and immediately reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for three hours. Avoid boiling vigorously to avoid bursting the skin.
Serve hot (and removed from casing) with “champit tatties and bashit neeps” (mashed/creamed potato and turnip). Some people like to pour a little whisky over their haggis – Drambuie is even better! Don’t go overboard on this or you’ll make the haggis cold.
*I located this recipe online at Suite101. It seems quite a nice version of the traditional entree.
- 2 lbs. liver (almost any kind)
- 3 onions
- 1/4 lb beef suet
- 2 cups oatmeal
- Black pepper
- Grains of Cayenne Pepper or Drops of Tabasco Sauce
- 2 cups stock or broth
- Cook 2 pounds of liver with peeled onions for about 20 minutes
- Put the liver and onion through a chopper
- Chop suet
- Put oatmeal into a heavy frying pan and stir over fire until lightly toasted
- Add chopped liver, onions and suet
- Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Add few grains of cayenne pepper or couple of drops of Tabasco as desired
- Moisten with liquid in which liver and onions were cooked
- Put into a large heat-proof buttered bowl, filling a little more than half full
- Cover with greased paper, waxed paper or buttered aluminum foil
- Tie or press down foil securely
- Steam for about two hours or cook in pressure cooker under 15 pounds pressure for about 30 minutes
Serves eight. Takes between 90 minutes to three hours to prepare and cook depending upon method of cooking.
Source (Modern Haggis)
A Cook’s Tour of the Bayou Country, Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana (Southwest Deanery) including Trinity Episcopal Church in Morgan City, Louisiana. The cookbook includes Creole, Cajun, Southern, Wild Game and other regional food in addition to occasional international selections such as Haggis and Hungarian Goulash reflecting the diversity of the Gulf Coast.
Editor’s Note: I’ve been living in Scotland going on 5 years, and I’m here to tell you that haggis is DELICIOUS. If you enjoy any kind of sausage, you’ve no business thumbing your nose at it – the meat (offal) in it is the same as your favourite salami! It is seasoned with pepper and barley, and cooked traditionally in the lining of a sheep’s stomach (again, a step above the intestine that most sausage is cooked in), but more often today you find them plastic casing. Either way, they are steamed, and the meat is scooped out and served on your plate – the casing is not consumed. So GET OVER IT and tuck in to some haggis!! – Rowan