How to make Haggis
Not living in your country of origin means giving up on certain things, especially favorite foods. Haggis is the national dish of Scotland and being 7,000 miles away from the nearest shop that sells it leaves you with a choice — do without, or learn how to make it yourself. So here's our guide to making Haggis.
Spices for flavoring the Haggis Stock
This step isn't really a part of a traditional Haggis Recipe, but we're not going to make a traditional Haggis, this recipe is slightly modernized as many spices and techniques weren't available when and where the recipe originated. Here we have Rosemary, Allspice, White, Black and Pink Peppercorns, grated Nutmeg, Coriander seeds, Thyme and a couple of Bay Leaves.
Cooking the Sheep Heart, Liver and Lungs
So, here's the part most people find off-putting about Haggis — the main ingredients. Difficult to find and in some countries actually illegal to sell but we're lucky enough to have a local butcher who's more than willing to oblige. It's important to give everything a very good rinse through with clean, cold water, drain and pat dry before adding to the pot, covering with water and cooking (in a pressure cooker) for an hour.
Preparing and Mincing the Meat
Once the meats have been cooked and cooled, keep the stock aside, filtering out the herbs. Everything needs to be roughly chopped for the mincer and to help remove the tough veins, especially from the lungs and Liver. Pulling these out is time consuming but ultimately worthwhile.
Adding The Oats
Once the meats have been cleaned of membrane and tubing, into the mincer they go. Then Oats are added to the mixer bowl. It's very important to use good quality Oats, Bobs Red Mill Steel Cut oats, while cheap in the USA, are very expensive in México. If you can find them, the price is certainly worth it. Breakfast oats are a fair alternative, but they can turn to mush if overcooked.
Minced Onion and Suet
Onion is the other main ingredient in Haggis, one large yellow or white onion should be chopped and minced into the mix. Suet is the final addition but as that's impossible to buy in México (Cebo is the fat that can bought and rendered into Suet, but it's another lengthy and messy task) grated Vegetable suet does quite well.
Adding (a lot more) spices
Along with the minced onion, heart, lungs, liver, Oats and Suet is a hefty amount of spice, mostly a repeat of what was added to the original stock. Black Peppercorns, Pink Peppercorns, Coriander Seed, Allspice, Nutmeg, White Pepper, Onion Powder, Marjoram and Bay are given a whiz through the spice grinder before being added to the mix.
Cooking the Haggis
Traditionally Haggis was cooked in the Sheep's stomach. I'm all for tradition but sometimes progress is all for the better and I heartily recommend using an artificial Haggis Bung like that which Tongmaster Seasonings (and others) sell. Scrubbing out the chewed grass which previous occupied the space is a LOT of work. Once the ingredients have been well mixed and enough stock mixed in so the oats have moisture to absorb, the stomach is loosely packed and the opening tied off.
Serving up your Haggis
After a couple of hours the Haggis is cooked, the oats are full and fluffy, it's ready to burst with the touch of a knife and be served up with Neeps and Tatties, on a Toastie, Oatcakes or even with a spicy tomato sauce as Haggis Pakoras.
Growing some "Neeps"
Technically this should be the first step as it takes several months of preparation. Neeps (Swede or Rutabaga as they are also known) aren't common in Méxican markets, so we’ve taken to planting seeds and growing them here — it typically takes around six months to fully grow. If you’ve not got time or patience to wait that long then a mix of Yellow and White Sweet Potato is a passable substitute.