And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak’ a right guid-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.
Burns Night is almost upon us here in Scotland which means one thing to me: an excuse to eat haggis! For those of you who aren’t familiar with Robert Burns, he was a Scottish poet in the 1700’s. His birthday, the 25th of January, is celebrated as Burns Night and it involves traditional Scottish food (usually haggis), poetry and a lot of Scottish whisky.
What does haggis taste like? / What is haggis?
Quite often the word alone evokes a reaction: from those who love it, hate it, and those who fear it.
Don’t Google it – hearing a list of the ingredients isn’t helpful to anyone. It’s offal. Left over pieces of a sheep. Leave it at that. It’s mixed with oatmeal and that mixture is spiced (not to be confused with spicy!) to leave you with what I can only describe as the richest, most luxurious mince. It has a softer texture than mince – nothing chewy – and a beautifully savoury flavour enhanced by the meat which is very fat-rich to give a buttery loveliness, punctuated by mild and peppery spices.
My advice: don’t think about it. Get a fork loaded with equal parts haggis, mashed potatoes and turnips (champit tatties and neeps), topped with a creamy whisky sauce. You won’t look back.
Alternatively – give this recipe a go!
You will need (to serve 6 hungry people):
1kg Haggis – I’m using a good Crombie’s of Edinburgh one as it’s a special occaision!
1kg waxy potatoes
4 large carrots
1 garlic clove
300ml single cream
100ml Scotch Whisky
Grated cheese (I never measure cheese…you can’t measure happiness.)
Knob of butter
Preheat your oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 7.
1. Cook your haggis as per instructions – usually by covering it in tinfoil and boiling. My instructions were for 1 hour for the first 500g and 15 minutes per every extra 200g, up to a maximum of 2 hours.
2. Peel and chop the vegetables and cook in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 15-20 minutes (I cooked a huge portion and the vegetables were chopped fairly big so they needed plenty boil time), or until tender. You want the carrot and swede to be nice and soft and the potatoes just almost soft.
3. Drain and set aside to cool slightly. Mash your carrot and swede together with some butter and white pepper.
4. When the haggis is ready, press it into your ovenproof dish. Top with a layer of your mashed vegetables.
5. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan until hot and fry the finely chopped shallots and garlic for 4-5 minutes, or until golden-brown. Deglaze the pan with the whisky and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add cream and heat gently.
6. Slice the potatoes thinly and layer on top of the mashed vegetables. Pour over the cream sauce. Top with grated cheese. All the cheese.
7. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is golden-brown and bubbling.
Then go and eat it and be happy.
If you’d rather someone else cooked, then click here! I’ve been around and I know a few places who know how to prepare haggis!