Saturday, February 11, 2006

HAGGIS -- The beloved National Dish of Scotland

Haggis is one of those national dishes that is both beloved and reviled by natives, and sometimes horrifies people who hear it described for the first time. It even horrifies some native Scots -- it goes best with vats of Scotch (preferably single-malt).

Haggis is not unlike a Scottish version of scrapple or boudin, with oats instead of cornmeal or rice, or perhaps more like a Cajun dish called paunce, which is stuffed pork stomach.

You might have a hard time finding a haggis here in the States (it's difficult to get them imported too; I understand that the USDA has declared them "unfit for human consumption."). There are butchers in NJ who make them, and you can order tinned haggis on-line. If you're motivated, now you can make haggis yourself!

WARNING: The smell of cooking haggis can be gawd-awful.

You will need:

  • 1 sheep's lung (illegal in the U.S.; may be omitted if not available)
  • 1 sheep's stomach
  • 1 sheep heart
  • 1 sheep liver
  • 1/2 lb fresh suet (kidney leaf fat is preferred)
  • 3/4 cup oatmeal (the ground type, NOT the Quaker Oats type!)
  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup beef or mutton stock
To prepare:

Wash lungs and stomach well, rub with salt and rinse. Remove membranes and excess fat. Soak in cold salted water for several hours (usually overnight). Turn stomach inside out for stuffing.

Cover heart and liver with cold water.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Chop heart and coarsely grate liver.
Toast oatmeal in a skillet on top of the stove, stirring frequently, until golden.
Combine all ingredients and mix well.
Loosely pack mixture into stomach, about two-thirds full.

** Remember, oatmeal expands in cooking. Do you want to clean exploded haggis off of everything in your kitchen?

Press any air out of stomach and truss securely.
Put into boiling water to cover.
Simmer for 3 hours, uncovered, adding more water as needed to maintain water level.
Prick stomach several times with a sharp needle when it begins to swell; this keeps the bag from bursting.
Place on a hot platter, removing trussing strings.

Serve with a spoon.

It's traditional that haggis be served with "neeps, tatties and nips" -- mashed turnips, mashed potatoes, nips of whiskey.


thatfarmgirl said...

LOL. I just saw Alton Brown prepare haggis on FoodTV and I can honestly say it is the first time in my 40+ years on earth that actually looking at something made me want to throw up. But to each his own, right?!?

June Cleaver's Revenge said...

I'm Cajun and I have never heard of paunce before. It can't be any worse than haggis though. I'd have to drink the single malt scotch FIRST and get good and drunk before I could even consider eating haggis. Plus if I drank enough scotch I could puke up the haggis easier.

Anonymous said...

HAGGIS!....aaaaagggghhhhhh! Run away, run away!

CrankyProf said...

Y'all are just wussies. If you can eat scrapple, you can eat haggis!

It's Me, Maven... said...

Oh I've eaten Scrapple... once a long time ago before I knew what was in it! Now that I do... I haven't had it in roughly 15-20 years! I don't eat NON-Kosher hotdogs for the same reason.

And re: Haggis... I don't "do" organ meat. Liver, kidneys, lung, tripe, sweetbreads... pig's uterus... NOTHING. I love lobster, but refuse to eat the "tamale," the filter/liver organ. It might be tastey, but to me, I can't get past the color.

If anything, seeing pig's uterus in the Asian market just makes me sad.

Miz said...

I have eaten Haggis, it tastes like mutton and the texture is like corse meatloaf. My family recipe calls for some chopped mutton too. You usally open the skin and eat the stuffing. I disliked the neeps more, I ate lots of Tats. Not in my top 100 favorite foods, not even in my top 1000, but Haggis beats Turnips in my book.