Scots love haggis. We love it more than Irn-Bru. We love the taste, the tradition, and we even sing to it – well, it’s called addressing the haggis but you know what we mean. Unfortunately, haggis has a bit of a bad reputation as grub goes and apart from steak and kidney pie, offal appears to be off-all the menus. Which is a shame as a well-cooked sheep’s tum has the most delicious, earthy flavour. Here at West Coast Foods we believe the beauty of the haggis lies within its versatility as a dish, it goes with a lot more than just neeps and tatties on Burn’s night – although it’s pretty fabulous then too. What’s more is it’s the perfect week night dinner for the family; savoury, simple and economical. The stuff a nation was built on.
Traditional haggis is of course made of sheep innards, minced and mixed with onion and oatmeal in a way similar to black pudding. Both are dishes created by ye olde need to use every part of the animal. Two different oatmeal grinds, medium and course, are used in the mixture in order to get that falling-apart-melt-in-your-mouth texture. Suet is added, to bind the ingredients together and keep the whole thing deliciously moist. Offal such as liver and kidneys are a great source of vitamin A and B, not to mention iron. In fact, it is something we really should eat more of but tend to shy away from; haggis is the perfect way to get the goodness without getting down and dirty with the offal stuff. Finally, spices like cayenne pepper, nutmeg and just good old salt and pepper are added to give the haggis its familiar flavour.
Surprisingly, veggie haggis has been extremely popular in recent years, usually made with nuts, lentils and mushrooms – anything to give it that moist, crumbly texture. Imagine a nut roast or the glory of stuffing at Christmas.
Although we generally associate sheep’s stomach with the upcoming festivities of Burn’s night (the piping, the speeches, the kilts and a cheeky dram or two) it is actually an excellent dish for all meals, all year round. And no, they don’t run around the countryside; they are far too shy for that.
Here’s a few ideas to make your haggis go a little further. Sliced haggis is generally used in a similar manner to black pudding, whilst bung haggis is more of your meat and two veg kind of thing.
Haggis breakie: aaah haggis at sunrise – nothing better! Try the sliced haggis fried up with eggs in a crusty white roll. Or better, use left overs for a delicious bubble and squeak, filled with tatties, cabbage, and served with rough oatcakes and chutney. Mix a sweet milk cheese in with the potatoes for a breakfast packed with flavour. East Ayrshire’s Dunlop is divine if you can lay your hands on it. You could even keep it Burns-esque with a sweet and fiery whiskey chutney!
Date night haggis: nothing says love like offal. Impress your other half with a haggis and blue cheese wellington, either as an alternative to beef or stuffed between the beef and the pastry for an extra savoury edge. Try a traditional Ayrshire cheese such as Dunsyre Blue, to compliment the nutty flavour of the haggis. The creaminess of a blue cheese is a match made in heaven with the flaky pastry and crumbly texture of the meat - maybe no kissing afterwards though.
Posh haggis: create beautiful canapés for your Burns night guests, with a slice or spoonful of haggis stacked with your choice of meat or even bitesize neeps and tatties. Haggis is often used for stuffing poultry such as chicken or turkey, so it works well with white meat. Opt for a smaller, gamier bird such as pigeon – leave your guests in awe with a towering appetizer of mash, haggis and pigeon breast. Or create a mix between the wellington and the canapé, with a haggis filo parcel.
Remember, Burns night is upon us (25th January) and for that you may want the real stuff. Our haggis bung is beautifully simple; already cooked, it needs an hour in a pan of gently boiling water to bring it back to life and it’s ready to serve for you and your family! Wrap the bung in foil first to avoid any mishaps.