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Although I am a pure Geordie at heart, love Newcastle and will always feel most at home there, there are many reasons why I also love Scotland. Firstly, the fact that my boyfriend lives in Glasgow, and so I've had many happy memories there. Secondly, because I go to university in Edinburgh, and so have good friends there and love the city in general. And then, of course, there is haggis.
Haggis is one of those foods that I really love, but find hard to come across in shops in Newcastle, and England in general. My dad said that our local fish and chip shop used to do fried haggis, but stopped doing it a few years ago, and there's nowhere else that I've seen nearby that does it either. Some supermarkets sell it, but it's not easy to come by, so I mainly only ever get to eat the great Scottish food when I'm in its homeland.
I'm not going to talk excessively about the ingredients of haggis, as I don't want to put some of you off trying it due to what's in it, but I will say that it is made of parts of a sheep which you wouldn't normally find in many dishes. I wouldn't say that something having unusual ingredients is an acceptable reason not to eat it though, as really, as long as something isn't going to kill you, the taste should be all that matters. If you think about it, if you're going to eat the meat of an animal, it's less wasteful to then also eat its stomach, heart and liver as well. Other ingredients include oats, which are healthy and tasty enough, as well as spices.
I find the taste of haggis somewhat difficult to describe, as it has its own unique flavour. Having never eaten sheep organs in any other form, I can't say how well the individual flavours come through, though I can say that there is a definite oaty taste in haggis, as well as a hint of spices. Haggis is very savoury without being dry, with a fairly thick consistency and texture. In short, there really is nothing like haggis, both in flavour and in excellence.
Haggis is most commonly eaten with potatoes and turnips (or neeps and tatties, if you prefer), which is a delicious meal to have, and can be found in many food pubs in Scotland and some restaurants. I often choose haggis, neeps and tatties when eating in a pub, and personally think that the combination tastes best when eaten with a small amount of tomato ketchup. Another way to enjoy haggis is by getting it fried from a fish and chip shop, and eating it with chips. The batter on the haggis gives the food a complementary crunchy outer texture, and tastes nice with a dash of vinegar over it. If you enjoy haggis, getting it from a chippy makes a nice change from sausage or fish and chips, and if it was available in England, then I would never get anything else!
In conclusion, haggis is one of my favourite foods, and I would recommend that everyone try it at least once (I'll let you off if you're vegetarian). The unique flavour and fantastic taste mean that I would happily eat it all the time, but really shouldn't due to its high calorie and fat content. Still, a little of what you feel like is only good for you, and if I was given the choice between being skinny and being able to eat haggis, then you could probably guess which one I'd go for!
A lot of people would automatically refuse Haggis because of the reputation that goes before it!
Haggis is very much an acquired taste, a mixture of lambs hearts and lungs combined with beef or lamb trimmings both fat and lean and oatmeal and seasoning. I enjoy the odd portion of Haggis, its a tasty and warming meal.
I do feel that healthy eating has probably made Haggis totally unacceptable to many. Years ago it was common to eat Lambs hearts, stuffed and roasted, they were delicious. The lungs or lights as I have always called them were boiled for the cats!
Haggis needs to be eaten in small quantities and served with creamy mashed potatoes and mashed swede or turnip, whichever you choose. Traditionally the meal would be accompanied with a dram of good Scotch Whisky.
Many supermarkets stock Haggis, as we near `Burns Night` the major supermarkets make a point of stocking them.
A good quality small haggis will cost you in the region of £5.
A smaller haggis will need to be simmered in a saucepan of hot water for about an hour and a half. I have reheated some in the microwave but have never been tempted to cook a haggis from scratch in that way, the oatmeal content tends to make the texture a bit dry so im sure that microwaving it whole would dry the haggis out even further.
Once you have taken the Haggis out of the saucepan and set it onto a plate you are ready to cut into the outer skin which is in fact the lining of a sheep's stomach.
As you cut that lining and start to scoop the haggis out with a spoon the smell of the offal contained in the haggis hits you!
But don't be put off, in small quantities it is delectable.
Scotland's Indian population have adopted the Haggis and many Indian restaurants now serve Haggis Pakora, I would imagine they taste wonderful.
Haggis has also become a popular stuffing for chicken breasts and there are many Scottish Fish and Chip shops that serve battered haggis slices.
A 100g portion of haggis contains in the region of 225 calories and as you would imagine it is high in fat.
Maybe a meal that you would only serve once in a while, but it is most definitely a tasty choice.
Haggis is a traditional Scottish dish. It is eaten by many people all the year round, but it is most famous for being served at Burns' Suppers. These Suppers are held on 25th January of each year, and they are held in commemoration of the birth of Robert Burns, who was a famous Scottish poet.
At these Suppers you are served Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, (Haggis, Turnip and potatoes). There is also usually a large amount of whiskey drunk at these events. The 'Chiefton' of the Supper, addresses the haggis before it is eaten. This means that one of the guests at the Supper, reads a piece of Burns' poetry and then pierces the haggis with a knife.
Haggis can be bought in several ways. You can buy a whole haggis which looks like the ones in the above picture, or you can buy it in slices, or you can buy it in a tin.
I make haggis several times a year and mostly in winter. I buy the tins of Grant's Haggis. I have, in the past bought a whole haggis and I have also bought some of the sliced variety, but the tinned variety is my favourite.
The Haggis I buy, comes in a 220g tin which has a red tartan label on it. There is a picture of the haggis on the front of the tin.
When I open the tin, the haggis is solid and comes out of the tin in one piece. It is a greyish colour and I can smell the spices as soon as I open the tin. This haggis has already been cooked and just needs to be heated up.
There are microwave instructions on the back of the tin, but I prefer to use the traditional method. I put the contents into a saucepan and break it up with a spoon. I find that a wooden spoon is best for this. I then heat up the haggis until it is piping hot. I usually give it a stir while it is heating. This only takes a few minutes. There is a lovely spicy aroma in the kitchen while the haggis is on the cooker.
I serve the haggis with mashed potatoes and mashed turnip. So, what does it look and taste like. Well, it looks a bit like mince minus any gravy. It has a distinctive taste which I will try to describe. It tastes meaty and is quite spicy. It leaves a hot taste in my mouth for a few minutes after eating. It is not smooth but neither is it too chunky. It goes really well with the potatoes and the turnip. They all seem to compliment each other.
This Haggis is made up of 45% Lambs Lungs, 19% Oatmeal and the remainder contains Beef Suet, Water, Onion, Salt and spices.
The best before date on the tin I have just used is June 2010, so this has a great shelf life. It does not give any nutrional values on the tin, but I would assume the calorie and fat values will be high.
This tin of Grant's Haggis can be bought in most supermarkets and is priced around 69p. One tin gives me two generous portions.
Grants' manufacturing plant is in Galston, Scotland.
"Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o the puddin'-race! Aboon them a' ye tak your place, Painch, tripe, or thairm: Weel are ye wordy of a grace As lang's my arm." Robert Burns If there is one dish that is immediately identified as being Scottish then it must be haggis and yet it would be more correct to call it a British dish. The English made haggis well into the 18th century before abandoning the dish, the Scots quite wisely continued to make haggis. Personally I love it and fortunately there are a few English butchers who now sell it. We still have it occasionally for dinner when I can find it here. Although butcher's shops and supermarkets are filled to overflowing with haggis on Burns Night on the 25th January (the anniversary of Robert Burns birth) and St. Andrew's Day (30th November) there is no difficulty in obtaining haggis all year round. It is even available in the traditional fish & chip shops in Scotland, albeit as a thick sausage shape and deep-fried. Unfortunately it is extinct in English fish and chip shops but can be found in most supermarkets on the afore mentioned dates. A traditional recipe Before I describe what haggis is it is important to stress that haggis tastes wonderful because if you knew what went into it you would probably never eat it! If you cannot buy a haggis locally or if you just fancy making one then here is a traditional recipe credited to "The Glasgow Cookery Book" (John Smith, 1962). I have to say I have only ever made it myself once or twice. Most butchers base their own recipes on this one, although each individual?s haggis will be different. Some will be smooth, rough, spicy, herby, strong or mild. As well as the usual sheep's haggis you can make sweet, venison or vegetarian haggis, the scope for variation is almost endless. As a result of the diversity of t
he possible recipes an annual competition is held to find the finest butcher's haggis in the country. Whatever the precise details of the recipe the resulting haggis ought to be moist and firm, never dry and crumbly nor should the meat consist of tough gristly bits. Ingredients 1 sheep's pluck. i.e. the animals heart, liver, and lights (lungs). Cold water. 1 sheep's stomach. 1lb lightly toasted pinhead oatmeal (medium or coarse oatmeal). 1-2 tablespoons salt. 1 level tablespoon freshly ground black pepper. 1 tablespoon freshly ground allspice. 1 level tablespoon of mixed herbs. 8oz finely chopped suet. 4 large onions, finely chopped. (lemon juice (or a good vinegar) is sometimes added as well as other flavourings such as cayenne pepper) Directions Wash the stomach in cold water until it is thoroughly clean and then soak it in cold salted water for about 8-10 hours. Place the pluck in a large pot and cover with cold water. The windpipe ought to be hung over the side of the pot with a container beneath it in order to collect any drips. Gently simmer the pluck for approximately 2 hours or until it is tender and then leave the pluck to cool. Finely chop or mince the pluck meat and then mix it with the oatmeal. Add about half a pint of the liquor in which the pluck was cooked (or use a good stock). Add the seasonings, suet and onions, ensuring everything is well mixed. Fill the stomach with the mixture, leaving enough room for the oatmeal to expand into. Press out the air and then sew up the haggis. Prick the haggis a few times with a fine needle. Place the haggis it in boiling water and simmer for approximately 3 hours. Serving your haggis Haggis is traditionally served as "haggis, neeps and tatties". The neeps are mashed turnip or swede, with a little milk and allspice added, whereas the tatties are creamed potatoes flavoured with a
little nutmeg. To add that authentic touch consume your haggis, neeps and tatties with a dram of good whisky, it goes down your neck not onto the haggis! The tourist haggis The tourist trade is keen to exploit the gulible tourist, willing or not, with the story of the wild haggis, a tubular beast which has one set of legs shorter than the other to enable it to run round hillsides. The wild haggis hides in the short purple heather that covers the Highland hillsides and is difficult to trap. However the secret is now out and all the good people of dooyoo know the real story about Haggis! Enjoy!
Haggis. What a great source of munch, not sure about the protein content. I suppose you want the history according to William Wallace about this stodgy mix of the heart, lungs, and liver of sheep, calf, etc. (or sometimes of the tripe and chitterlings), which is then minced with suet and oatmeal, seasoned with salt, pepper, onions, and a whole babble of other stuff. The haggis has been used in Scottish and English cookery for hundreds of years although it is traditionally thought of as a staple Scottish food. Robert Burns wrote about it in one of his bland poems and hence it?s popularity on Burns night in Scotland: ?Fair fa' yer honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o' the pudden race!? From my description, Haggis really doesn?t sound at all appetising does it? But if you?re like me and can?t resist at least trying strange and weird things you?ll probably like it. The trick is to pretend it?s made of something else. Like mussels, stare at it too long and it can turn your stomach, eat it without forethought and you?ll be fine mate (I sound like something straight from the culinary pages of Jamie Oliver). Apparently, although don?t quote me on this one, the USA have banned some of the ingredients from it?s supermarket shelves, brandishing them as unsuitable for human consumption. They don?t know what they are missing! Haggis in it?s most common form looks like a swollen sausage and is prepared by simply boiling in water ? for 4 hours! The skin of the haggis is a stomach lining from a sheep. Again, not very appetising but rest assured, you don?t eat this part. It?s the haggis?s storage accessory only. For the more modern man, it can also be bought in tins. Your choice, stomach lining or tin? A delicacy maybe to the uninitiated. Although one thing I find rarely done with delicacies is battering. Bear with me. On a visit to the Isle of Aran a few years back I stumbled upon battered haggis in the l
ocal chippy. Mouth-watering. Sprinkle a bit of salt and vinegar on it, take your time chomping through it?s enormity and crunchy shell and you?ll have no problems with digestion. Great stuff. Searching the Internet I came across a firm that will actually deliver Haggis to your door called the McKean Family of Haggis. I?ve never tried their Haggis products but judging by their descriptions etc. I think they are probably experts in haggis production. They have some cool names as well like The Chieftain, The Warrior, The Wee Warrior, The Sma Chiefs, and others. You can order online and they send it in an insulated container. Otherwise, another place you can definitely get it is Tescos and other supermarkets. These though do not have any wacky names. So go out and eat Haggis.
"Haggis ""is typically served on Burns Night, January 25, when Scotland celebrates the birth of its greatest poet, Robert Burns, who was born in Ayrshire on that date in 1759. Haggis is a dish consisting of the heart, lungs, and liver of a sheep, calf, etc. (or sometimes of the tripe and chitterlings), minced with suet and oatmeal, seasoned with salt, pepper, onions, etc., and boiled like a large sausage."