It's a famous food that practically everyone has heard of. But, asking most people to list its ingredients will, more often than not, result in nothing but puzzled frowns. And inquiring how to make it will likely get you nothing more than a response of complete silence and a shaking of the head. It is that legendary Scottish dish called haggis. So what, exactly, is it? And how do you go about perfecting a tasty plate of haggis? It's time for a lesson in cooking.
Haggis: contents and cooking
A traditional pudding-based delicacy that many Scottish people view as their national dish, haggis is a hearty and filling concoction. It is comprised of the lungs, liver and heart of a sheep, all of which are carefully placed in the stomach of the animal, along with a variety of other items guaranteed to add flavour, including oatmeal, a hearty stock, onions, and salt. And it's very often served with mashed potatoes and turnips, as well as a warming glass of whisky.
Given that the combined oatmeal and organs of the animal amount to a sizable amount of food, it's not particularly feasible to just make a plate for one. And freezing it for leftovers tends to take away the spiciness of the flavour. So, it's always wise to cook for at least 3 or 4 people at any given time. And while that might sound daunting, it's actually not. All you need to do is carefully follow a few simple tasks and, within just a few hours, you'll have the perfect plate of haggis in front of you.
The first step in the process of perfecting haggis is to put the lungs, heart and liver in an appropriately-sized saucepan of water. Then, when the water has boiled, keep it bubbling for approximately two hours. After which, you should remove the organs, carefully and thoroughly mince them, and drain the stock and keep it for the next step. The meat should then be transferred to a pan, along with the onions, oatmeal, a sprinkling of salt, and enough stock to ensure the combined items remain soft and succulent. Then pour the mixture inside the stomach of the sheep, tie the stomach together, and place it into a large pan of boiling water. Three hours later, your haggis should be perfect and ready for serving!
Add nutmeg and coriander to your haggis to give it extra flavour. Make sure it's served with side-dishes of mashed potato and turnips.
Make a couple of small holes in the stomach casing to avoid popping during the cooking process. Be careful to not under-cook the meat during the initial stage. And don't overcook the combined oatmeal and minced meat: it should always be moist and soft.