“ Manufacturer: Halls / Type: Meat „
I married a Scot, and most of you who are familiar with Dooyoo will know him well as Donf18, but it wasn't he who introduced me to the noble haggis, this happened many years ago before we had even met. I have always liked it since the first taste, but I have to confess as to being somewhat unaware of the contents.
A few miles down the road there is a huge testament to the fact that Hall's meats remain as popular today as they ever did, it's a big factory where they make the sausages, bacon, black pudding haggis, white pudding and a few other traditional recipes we all have enjoyed several times over the years. On passing you can get the odd whiff of some concoction being prepared and most times it is quite pleasant although this said it can be a bit pungent at times too.
The size and price of haggis can vary significantly depending on where and when it is bought but a small haggis sufficient for two or three will only cost in the region of a pound. I say two or three this also depends on how much you intend to call a serving, I like a fair bit along with my neeps and tatties, and on Tuesday I shall participate along with thousands of other Scots in celebrating Robert Burns.
I can't honestly say I have a particular affiliation to the bard, more so to the tradition of eating haggis on his birthday. In some places this is taken very seriously and the piping in of a haggis is a very solemn and moving ceremony. No not particularly in celebration more simply because I do like haggis, it's unusual taste is both enjoyable and filling especially when accompanied by the traditional neeps and tatties.
It's only recently I discovered the true contents of a haggis and I can't say that in doing so it endeared me any closer to it. The best way to describe it is as a Scottish sausage, filled with sheep's heart, lungs, and liver spices and oatmeal. Not to appetising when put like that but certainly worth trying if you like sausage.
It is generally boiled and served with neeps and tatties but it is also sometimes sliced and fried after the boiling and this is they way I prefer mine to be done. I think the frying just gives it a slightly better flavour. The flavour is really just a spicy meaty taste with a slightly gritty texture due to the oatmeal.
I do like my haggis and as I have intimated I shall be participating on Tuesday although this will not be the only day this year on which I shall enjoy my haggis. I will be having it a few more times over the coming months and each time I shall as I always do look forward to a hearty ( excuse the pun ) meal.
I'm Scottish and very proud of that fact, but for all that is Scottish in me Haggis wasn't until recently. It wasn't a taste thing, which stopped me from eating it; it was the contents and how it's made. It's funny really since I do not have the same problem with black pudding, which I guess has a similar effect on many readers.
About 3 miles down the road and on the way to my work I pass the Hall's factory almost on a daily basis. In all this time I can't say I've given much thought to what goes on inside. It is however a constant reminder as to how famous it is. The quality and range of products, which leave the factory daily, is vast and perfect. Bacon Sausages, Black Pudding, White Pudding, Haggis both meat and vegetarian varieties are some of the traditional eats which are made here.
Being that Burn's day is just around the corner the evidence stacked on the shelves would indicate that there is an expected rush on haggis as per usual. The best way to describe haggis is perhaps as a large oval Scottish sausage or pudding as some may prefer to describe it. It has become a global delicacy, but it is the prime ingredients, which have put me off having it until a few years ago.
In this modern world haggis is no longer made in a sheep's stomach, instead a proprietary sausage skin type thingy is used. The contents of this skin however is as popular today as it has ever been, these being sheep's heart, liver, and lungs mixed with seasoning, oatmeal suet and spices. It is generally served with neeps and tatties or turnip and potatoes to those further south. It is a very filling and as I have recently discovered a very tasty dish indeed. It is probably not to everyone's taste but it is very nice with the traditional accompaniments.
Some people slice and fry the haggis once it has been boiled and cooked, I am afraid that I'm guilty of enjoying mine done this way as opposed to just boiling and serving. The dish is a not so appetising grey brown colour and is certainly not appealing to the eye. This said it is very nice and although some manufacturers tend to add too much spice, I find in very enjoyable. If you can get by the contents and concentrate on the taste it is really quite good, in much the same way as I have obviously got over the contents of a black pudding.
The haggis was memorialised by Robert Burns in his poem " Address to a Haggis " and has pride of place on many Scottish tables on Burn's night, which is January 25th. There is great ceremony and care taken to the piping in of a haggis, and the whole thing is very serious. I have to once again stand up and be found guilty since I have never been to a Burns' supper, but I do and will partake of the haggis on the commemoration of the great bard.
A lot of the pomp and ceremony surrounding the haggis is associated with the great man, and although it is a very tasty dish this association is there for ever. I don't think when he wrote the address he realised how significant it would become to our Scottish culture, or how important a speciality sausage might become too. There were for years stories of haggis running around the highlands and crofters chasing them for the kitchen table, and many a person was taken in by such a story. On the 25th of January there will be thousands of haggis being cooked, and there will be many Burn's nights doing the piping in of the haggis and the drinking of the whiskey. However and whatever you plan to eat and do on the 25th you could do far worse than treat yourself to Haggis neeps and tatties. All the major supermarkets stock haggis all year round and a good one will cost you around £2 - £3 and I think I can say without contradiction that Hall's haggis would qualify as at least GOOD.
We like Haggis on the odd occasion. Not too much, as I think it is a bit sickly, although it is dry as well. Sort of like Black Pudding, but that bit different. I always think of this is being a bit of a cross with Black Pudding and White Pudding, but thinking about it it is nothing like this.
You can get this in ready sliced packs, but I like to buy a ball of this and slice it myself. At least that way you can cut it into thicker bit if you wanted. I don't like it overly thick though, and the wife likes it thinner, which is quite hard to do as this crumbles when you slice it.
You just get this where all the other Breakfast goods are such as Sausages, Bacon, White Pudding etc.
This pack cost us 31.50 the other week. Quite a good serving of Haggis in a smooth round ball. When you open this from the plastic bag you can smell a nice slightly spicy scent from this. It is a thick ball, and as I mentioned you slice this to cook this. It gives a good size of Slice, and 2 slices would cover your roll ok.
We just fry the slices in a pan for a few minutes and this cooks them ok.
This is a nice haggis. It tastes fresh enough, not too greasy and has a nice crumbly texture to it.
We had haggis for tea last night and it was so yummy that I don't know why we don't buy it more often because we all enjoyed it. Haggis is Scottish and the best thing for me to compare it to are faggots because they are quite similar, not Brains faggots that much but the gristly looking ones you buy in the butchers.
We cooked our Halls haggis in the oven and it took about and hour and a half, the smell as it was cooking was gorgeous and made the kitchen smell proper nice.
When you cut it the haggis crumbles up so you end up with a pile of haggis not slices, I bet the Scottish can slice it up a lot better than I did yesterday! lol
The taste is wicked, I've had haggis before but not Halls and I think it's deffo the best one I've eaten. It's a very dark colour and has got a majorly rich flavour, the haggis is proper meaty with a wicked spicy taste that cops the back of your throat as you chew and swallow it. I thought this haggis was very filling and a lot of that is to do with how strong the flavour is because it's proper satisfying to eat.
I love the texture of it too because it's crumbly but when you chew it all together it gets a mega meaty texture, faggots are close but the texture of this Halls Haggis is a million times better than that. The last time we had haggis I kept finding bits of gristle in it but this one is pure meat.... and all the other crap that goes into haggis but I don't like thinking about that! lol
This haggis cost £2.00 and I reckon that's good value. They're not very big but because of them being so strong tasting you don't need a massive amount on each plate, we had to buy 2 because there are 5 of us and that did us all with a bit left over.
Recommended.... I'm going to have it again soon!!!
My Chinese wife has been in the UK for nearly three years and has always turned her nose up at, what she calls, 'Inglishee food' but she just loved the Halls Haggis I cooked for her on Burns Night. I wish I'd bought more from my local Somerfields now, as I'm told they only stock them in Jan. Oh well, only another 11 months to wait for her to eat my cooking without adding some sort of Chinese adative to it.
Homecoming Scotland 2009, a year of celebration was launched to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Rabbie Burns. Haggis is always on the menu at Burns Night Dinners served with neeps and tatties.
As a family we do like Haggis, although for many it is a taste to be acquired, best not to think of the ingredients for those with a weak constitution!
When I first came to live in Scotland nearly 40 years people always joked that hunters went out to catch the wee haggis on the moors, I know otherwise and the one I am reviewing today began its life in a factory not too many miles away in the county where I live.
Where shall I start?
Haggis is a traditional Scots dish, there are many recipes, most of which have in common the following ingredients and include sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal's stomach for approximately three hours. It used to me made in homes when a pig was killed, but now ususlly bought from the butcher or in a supermarket.
My haggis has 33% Pork lung, oatmeal, pork fat, 11% pork liver, water, pork rind, salt, onion, 1% pork heart, spices, rusk, and some preservatives.
There is 240kcal per 100grams , 13.6grams of protein and a rather lot of fat - 13.7 grams. My husband and I shared the 454 gram haggis so I'm afraid that wasn't very good for the diet! But it was very tasty, and would make 3 smaller portions with vegetables.
It comes already cooked but needs to be reheated as it is very solid, I like to slice up the haggis remove it from the plastic casing and pop it into a Pyrex casserole, cover and put it in the microwave for about 5 minutes, give it a stir and then another 5 minutes at full power. It can be steamed or baked in the oven in a casserole dish. The haggis must be heated well all through, and it does break up into small pieces so you can see the oatmeal and the tiny pieces of minced meat.
As I have said I like haggis, some more than others as the spices can make it very peppery, the taste of the nutty oatmeal is good. I like the balance of the Halls haggis and it can also be frozen but should be used within 1 month and has to be defosted before using. Haggis used to be bought cooked in the stomach of the animal, but now comes cased in plastic and sealed in a cellophane wrapper. It has thistles and a Scottish flag on the front, so you know you are buying Scottish. It must be kept in the refrigerator and my last Haggis had a use by date of February 13th.
Haggis can be used to stuff inside a chicken breast and served with a creamy whisky sauce, it is then called Balmoral chicken. The haggis will stuff about 5 breasts, wrap with some bacon, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, remove foil and return to oven for further 10 minutes.
Another favourite in our house is to cook the haggis, add some whisky and single cream and put into ramekin dishes and pop into oven until heated through and top is crispy, this makes a lovely starter.
Halls is now part of the Grampian Country Pork Group and is based in Broxburn, West Lothian.
And lastly my haggis cost £1.70, so a very tasty reasonable meal. I have bought cheaper makes but don't like the tate as much. Never tried it? Well go on, it is a really savoury food, much nicer than sausages, and if tried along with the chicken first you will get just a small amount to taste.
And I will end with Rabbie Burns Ode to a haggis
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 o' a grace
As lang's my arm.
The myths tell us that a haggis is a six legged animal with one set of legs shorter than the other to allow them to run round the sides of mountains but the reality is somewhat different. It is a dish which is traditionally made of sheep pluck which is the heart, lungs and intestines of a sheep mixed with oatmeal, suet and spices and packed into a sheeps stomach and boiled. It was a way of using up the entire animal in lean times but unlike other offal dishes it is still popular to this day.
The Halls haggis is made from pork lung, oatmeal, pork fat, pork liver, water, pork rind, salt, onion, pork heart, spices and rusk and is packaged in natural casing. It's the first time I have had a haggis packed in the traditional way and the skin is very weird, it's beige in colour and marbled in appearance, stretchy and feels very oily to the touch. I think I prefer the plastic casing which modern haggis lovers will be more used to.
I'm sure that the list of ingredients will put many people off trying haggis but it is really delicious. It doesn't look too nice with the grey looking meat containing small flecks of beige oatmeal but it is delicious. The haggis has a fairly mild and nutty flavour with the taste of the oatmeal coming through. The Halls haggis does taste different to other brands, possibly because of the use of pork instead of sheep, it is also very salty and not as spicy as I would like but still an acceptable haggis.
The Halls haggis comes in different sizes, I bought a 454g ball for £1.99 from Asda but bigger ones are also available. It says it serves 2 to 3 people but they must be massive portions, I think it would serve at least 4 for a main meal. Unfortunately Halls do not provide nutritional info on the pack but my guess is that it's full of fat and salt but also has some fibre from the oatmeal so best not to eat it too often.
To cook the haggis you need to either steam it for an hour or you can take the easy option and chop it up and put it into the microwave for 6 minutes, guess which option I took!
The traditional way to serve haggis is with tatties and neeps (mashed potatoes and turnip) and these foods go perfectly together. I also love brown sauce with my haggis which complements the nutty spiciness of the dish. I used the leftover haggis to make a flying Scotsman which is chicken breasts stuffed with haggis and wrapped in bacon and baked which also went down well. I still have a small portion left and will probably microwave it and stick it on a sandwich which tastes nicer than it probably sounds.
Don't let the ingredients put you off; haggis is a cheap and delicious meal. The Halls haggis is pretty good especially considering the low price.