What is haggis?
Haggis is the emblematic recipe of Scottish cuisine and probably the national dish of Scotland. It consists of a sheep’s stomach (or sometimes artificial casing) that is stuffed with sheep’s pluck (liver, heart, lungs), suet and kidneys that are spiced and seasoned with coriander, mace, black pepper and onion. Oatmeal is also added as a binder. The belly is then sewn and cooked. It is served with mashed potatoes or rutabagas.
How to make haggis
Haggis requires some preparatory steps like cleaning the stomach. To do this, it must be washed several times in water and gently scraped and then soaked in salted water. It is also necessary to blanch the sheep’s pluck with salted boiling water and bake them for two hours.
You must then chop everything finely, mix with onions, oatmeal and spices to obtain a soft mass. This mass must be kneaded five minutes before it is used to stuff the stomach. It must be filled to two thirds to prevent it from bursting during cooking. The cooking is done in boiling water for three and a half hours.
What is the origin of haggis?
The origin of haggis dates back to the eighteenth century, when this dish was prized and considered refined by the nobility of the country. The word haggis comes from the Middle English that was spoken between 1066 and 1470. It could mean “chopped” or “cut”. It could also come from old English haggen or French hachis. You will also find two Icelandic words that are quite close: hoggva and haggw.
Today, the stomach is almost never used. Instead, a synthetic stomach is used, as the animal stomach is often considered unfit for consumption and difficult to store.
In Homer’s Odyssey, there is a mention of a dish that seems close to haggis: “a man before a great blazing fire turning swiftly this way and that a stomach full of fat and blood, very eager to have it roasted quickly”
If the origin of the haggis is uncertain, some culinary historians such as Clarissa Dickson-Wright nevertheless say that it would be a “transportable” dish during transhumance.
Every January 25, the Scots celebrate the Burns Night in memory of the poet Robert Burns. It is customary to enjoy haggis that night. It is also thrown in the Highlands during the summer games. To date, the record is set at 66 meters.
Haggis is also surrounded by legends as is often the case in Scotland, a land of mysteries. Some speak of a wild haggis, a bird-like Highland creature with a variable number of legs. The largest known wild animals were captured in 1893 and reportedly weighed 25 tons.
Another legend reports that the cry of the wild haggis is at the origin of the bagpipe. It was invented in order to lure and capture the animal.
What are the other versions of haggis?
If haggis is traditionally prepared with mutton offal, it can also be prepared with pork and beef. Some Scottish vegetarian restaurants even offer it with lentils, oats, bran or even wheat.
Recently, some restaurants have offered a royal haggis accompanied by a whiskey sauce.
In the Maghreb and Libya, there are dishes similar to traditional Scottish haggis such as bakbouka, osbane or mjabna. These versions are often very tasty and accompanied by local vegetables such as cardoons, zucchini, chickpeas, turnips, tomatoes and onions.
Haggis is often disparaged and misunderstood around the world, often mocked and considered inedible. It has only been exported to the United States where the Scottish community is important. The difficulty of its preparation is probably responsible for its lack of success.
- 1 sheep's stomach
- ¼ lb suet
- 2 lb sheep's pluck (liver, heart and lungs)
- ½ lb lamb kidney
- 3 onions , peeled
- 1 teaspoon dried coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon mace
- 1 lb oatmeal
- Black pepper , freshly ground
- Wash the sheep's stomach carefully, flip it over and gently scratch the inside.
- Soak for 8 hours in cold salted water.
- Wash the sheep's liver, heart, lungs, kidney and fat, immerse in salted boiling water and cook slowly, covered, for 2 hours.
- Drain everything, remove all the cartilage and trachea, then chop finely with a knife or chopper.
- Blanch the onions in a large pot with boiling water for 10 minutes.
- Reserve the cooking water. Drain and chop the drained onions.
- In a skillet, roast the oatmeal on low heat to make it crisp.
- Then mix all the ingredients of the recipe by gradually binding with a little reserved cooking water from the onions. The mixture must be somewhat firm.
- Knead by hand for 5 minutes.
- Introduce the stuffing into the sheep's stomach to fill about ⅔.
- Remove the air and tie in the middle.
- Pierce the stomach several times using a thin needle so that it does not open or burst during cooking.
- Cook covered and over low heat for 3 hours 30 minutes in a large pot of boiling water.
- Remove the strings.
- To serve, open the hot stomach, remove the stuffing, serve on the plates accompanied by mashed potatoes and/or rutabagas sprinkled with chopped parsley and black pepper, and with rustic bread.