It’s Burns Night and that most distinctive of Scottish delicacies, the haggis, makes what for many is its sole annual appearance. This is a shame because, as with many of our regional offal dishes, it should be eaten far more often.
For those of us ‘south of the border,’ the haggis has an almost mythical quality. I once convinced my godson that the haggis was some rare and shy creature, with a hairy coat, strange habits and looking somewhat akin to a miniature Cousin It from the Addams Family. They were crafty things, only to be caught by the most elaborate of canny contraptions.
He believed it all. Though strangely, when I told him the truth, how a haggis is made from the insides of a sheep stuffed into other insides of a sheep, he didn’t believe a word of it. The true haggis is offal hardcore: heart, lungs, liver, kidney stuffed into the stomach with oats and seasonings.
This version is, for the purest, a slightly sanitised version, but full of the distinctive savoury flavour. Any good butcher will keep you lambs lungs if you order them in advance . Just add them to the pan with the other offal at the start. And cling film is a less visceral alternative to a stomach.
You can serve your haggis straight from the pan once poached. Alternatively, you can allow it to cool and then slice it and fry in rounds. I prefer this method as it creates a crispy surface.
Enjoy…and do keep an eye out for those wild haggis.
Countryphile James Waller-Davies shares traditional county recipes: Haggis
1 lambs heart, 150g lambs liver, 2 lambs kidneys, 250g lamb/beef trimmings, 75g suet, 100g porridge oats, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp ground coriander seed, 1 tsp sage.
Place the heart, liver and kidneys and a lamb stock cube in a pan and cover with 1.5L water.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour. Then remove and allow to cool. Keep the liquor.
Mince, or finely chop, the cooled offal and the meat trimmings and place in a mixing bowl with all the other ingredients. Season well with salt and pepper.
Add two ladles of the poaching liquor and mix well. Allow to soak and cool for 2 hours.
Divide into 4 portions and roll each in cling-film to make a tight ‘Christmas cracker’ shape. Prick each a few times with a needle and poach gently in boiling water for 1 hour. Serve with ‘neeps and tatties’ and a gravy made from the remaining liquor.