Haggis, Neeps & Tatties :: Celebrating Robbie Burns Day

>> Monday, 25 January 2010

Living in Scotland for 2 years definitely gave me an appreciation for Scottish cuisine (and men in kilts).

Okay, stop laughing.

I'm not talking about fried Mars bars (I only had one once and it was pretty good*LOL*) but rather Haggis. Yes, that strange and often discussed 'food' that generally accompanies looks of horror on the faces of the unadventurous. Haggis.

In fact, in the pink kitchen (this requires a longer story at some point..but I had a hot pink kitchen in Scotland), we began to serve it to every guest who came across the pond to visit, even hosting a Burns supper on January 25th and inviting all the Canadians and Scots we knew! When in Rome, right? The great thing about haggis though is that it is very often misunderstood and is actually VERY tasty!

My friend Christine perhaps summed it up perfectly when she said.."Oh, it's like a spiced version of meatloaf". Spot.on.the.money.

I mean, sure it's ummm...exotic and has apparently been banned in the US since 1989 due to all the interesting parts contained within? We can buy it here in Canada, so I had no clue about this ban.

Here's a recipe..minus all the cooking directions (and to be honest, it's MUCH easier to buy a premade haggis to cook...apparently now Americans will be able to as well!!!)

  • 1 sheep's stomach or ox secum, cleaned and thoroughly, scalded, turned inside out and soaked overnight in cold salted water
  • heart and lungs of one lamb
  • 450g/1lb beef or lamb trimmings, fat and lean
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 225g/8oz oatmeal
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground dried coriander
  • 1 tsp mace
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • Water, enough to cook the haggis
  • Stock from lungs and trimmings

Haggis is always, always, always plated with neeps (turnip) and tatties (potatoes)...both mashed, and a wee dram of whiskey. Perfection.

On Burns night (celebration of the Scottish poet Robert Burns birthday) pomp and circumstance are definitely part of the perfect evening and Haggis is the centre of the celebration. The haggis is 'played' in with bagpipes and everyone applaudes before reciting the Selkirk Grace and then addressing the Haggis with Burns own 'Address to a Haggis'.

(I find that saying it aloud helps in understanding it!)

Address to a Haggis

(Robert Burns)

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.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
'Bethankit' hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect sconner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit:
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.

Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

Then a whiskey toast is drank to the Haggis and dinner begins.

Happy Burns Day!


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