It strikes fear in the hearts of natives and foreigners alike. It’s the secret weapon I believe that every Scot is given at birth. It could very well be the reason behind the Highlands’ wild reputation. It may give insight into the reason why whisky is so popular in Scotland.
Þe hert of schepe, þe nere þou take,
Þo bowel noght þou shalle forsake,
On þe turbilen made, and boyled wele,
Hacke alle togeder with gode persole,
This is the national dish of Scotland, and along with bagpipes, plaid, and the Loch Ness Monster, may be one of the few things most of the world knows about the country. And honestly, I think it gives Scots a very bad rap. Anytime I want to see a horrified look on my mother’s face, all I have to do is whisper haggis. Then Dad will say something like, “No wonder they were taken over by the English, eating food like that.”
However, if none of this deters you, if you’re a hard-core Scotophile, if you are bound and determined to make this…unique…dish in your own home–be my guest. Here is the original recipe from 1430:
But I doubt that helped you much. Here’s a more modern version:
1 sheep’s lung (I hear it’s illegal in the U.S., I wonder why)
1/2 lb fresh suet (kidney leaf fat is preferred)
3/4 cup oatmeal (the ground type, NOT the Quaker Oats type!)
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Be sure to wash the lungs and stomach well (nothing like eating unwashed organs), then rub them with salt and rinse. Remove all membranes and excess fat. Soak in cold salted water for several hours. Turn the stomach inside out for stuffing.
Put the heart and liver in a pot, cover with cold water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
This is the really good part. Chop the heart and coarsely grate the liver (I can honestly say I’ve never grated liver before, coarsely or otherwise). Toast oatmeal in a skillet on top of the stove, stirring frequently, until golden. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Loosely pack this mixture into your prepared stomach until it’s about two-thirds full (remember, oatmeal expands in cooking).
Press any air out of the stomach and truss securely (see picture above). Put into boiling water, enough to cover the haggis. Simmer for 3 hours, uncovered, adding more water as needed to maintain the water level. Prick the stomach (sounds like a fun kid’s game, doesn’t it?) several times with a sharp needle when it begins to swell. This keeps the bag from bursting.
Place on a platter, removing the trussing strings, and serve with a spoon. This dish should be served with all due ceremony with neeps and tatties (mashed turnips and mashed potatoes), and, of course, plenty of whisky.
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