What Is Haggis Made Of?

Written by phillip ginn
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Haggis is a popular Scottish meat dish that is traditionally served with mashed potatoes and mashed turnips. Though there is some speculation that haggis originated in England, the dish became popular and most associated with Scotland. It is traditionally served on Burns' Day, January 25th, after Scotland's most famous poet, Robert Burns, who wrote the poem, "Address to a Haggis."

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Haggis is distinct in that is it made from lamb's offal and suet. Lamb's offal is the lung, heart, and liver of a young sheep. Suet is the white, hard fat from the kidneys and loins of livestock, like cattle and sheep.

Other customary ingredients are oats, onions, herbs and spices. These ingredients are then stuffed into a sheep's stomach and boiled. Though sheep's meat is most popular, other meats can be used to make haggis, such as pork, venison, and beef. Sheep became the dominant livestock in 18th century Scotland, so that is what was most used.

Vegetarian haggis is also available, though the only ingredients in common with the meat version are the oats and onions. Beans, mushrooms, pecans, and other vegetarian ingredients are used in lieu of meat.

Making Haggis

Making haggis is easy but time consuming. There are several recipes available, and each differ from one another in minor ways. The general process is the same, however.

If you choose to use a sheep's stomach---also referred to as a "bag"---for the casing, you'll need to soak it overnight in cold water. Some recipes call for salted water and some call for unsalted. If you don't want to use a sheep's stomach, other casings are available such as cow intestine or casings made from collagen.

The lamb's offal---also called the "pluck"---should be thoroughly rinsed, then boiled for about two hours. You can use other meat if you'd like, especially if you cannot get lungs or a heart. Liver, however, should be fairly accessible so this should be included in your recipe. While the meat is boiling, toast the oats and mince the onions and suet.

After the meats are done boiling, you can either let them sit overnight covered in the liquid in which they boiled, or remove and mince them after they cool. Some recipes call for grating the liver. The meat mixture should not be smooth, but somewhat coarse. Add the onions, suet, and some of the liquid so that the mixture binds.

After mixing thoroughly, remove the casing from the water and stuff it with the mixture until it's about 2/3 of the way full. Tie off the casing and prick it with a fork in several places, which will prevent the haggis from bursting during cooking. Place it in new, boiling water for about three hours.

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