It’s July. Almost six months after Burns Night. I am not Scottish nor do I have any connection with Scotland (other than having been on a few holidays in that very beautiful country). So why am I doing a post about haggis? Because its delicious!! And, because I am not Scottish, that’s an unbiased statement not one born out of blinkered patriotism. You don’t need to be Scottish nor does it need to be Burns Night for you to enjoy it. It makes for a hearty and quick midweek meal which we have several times a year (it only takes a few minutes to heat up in the microwave – don’t bother steaming or oven cooking for hours!).  Even our fussy kids love that dark crumbly meaty, oatmeally goodness spiced up with white pepper and they have eaten it from a very early age (I have to mention, they are now grown up and a lot less fussy).
If you have not tried haggis, please give it a go. Don’t turn your nose up because it has a slightly unattractive name or you are not sure exactly what it is. Now that brings me on to an important point – the animal rights issue. Many people think that haggis are cute, cuddly, furry creatures. They are not. Don’t believe what you see in the picture below(!). They are vermin with nasty little spiky teeth and bad tempers. Haggis breed more profusely than rabbits on Viagra and they are omnivorous, stripping the Scottish Highlands of heather and other flora thus depriving other indigenous fauna of food and habitat. Worse still, their favourite food is the genuinely cuddly and inoffensive sporran. The sporran is now an endangered species. Not only do they fall prey to the ferocious haggis but, of course, their pelts are used as the traditional furry adornment to that most Scottish of garments, the kilt. Scottish weavers claim as many sporran as the horrible little haggis. By the way, did you know you can tell the clan of a Scotsman by what’s in his sporran? A bottle of gin and he’s a Gordon. A tin of soup and he’s a Campbell. And if a Scotsman has two quarter pounders in his sporran, he’s a McDonald. Or is that under his kilt? I’m not sure.
So please eat more haggis and help save a sporran. Traditionally, haggis is eaten with “bashed neeps and tatties” and washed down with Scotland’s national drink, Irn-Bru (usually a special single-girder Irn-Bru, aged in iron casks for 12 years). In practice, I think swedes might be used rather than “neeps” (turnips). If you are not keen on swede, try it mashed with carrots and plenty of butter and black pepper. At home, we have whatever veg we have to hand since we are not bound by tradition. Also, we always have gravy – either homemade onion gravy or leftover gravy from a roast (beef, chicken or pork – all good). I hope I am not offending any Scottish folk. Tip: when you have a roast (including a cheat’s pot roast) or even a beef casserole, always make more gravy/sauce than you need by adding a bit more stock and thickening agent. Then freeze some for another meal e.g. sausage and mash or … haggis and mash!
For some years now I have also thought that left over haggis and mashed potato would make a great potato cake. Mix the potato and haggis together and form into cakes (about the size and shape of a thick hamburger). Then fry on both sides until brown and temptingly crispy.
The problem is we never have left overs! It’s all wolfed down at the first attempt. However, I had my opportunity a few weeks ago when we had a guest so we cooked two haggis and too much mashed tatties. The next day, I cooked the haggis potato cakes as described above for brunch for my son and me. Topped with (very) crispy bacon and a poached egg, they were as yummy as I had hoped.
Haggis potato cakes – just add brown sauce. Or A1 Steak Sauce in the US if you can get haggis over there. I know the bacon’s a bit, er, crispy. I got distracted by a very cute sporran. My best poached egg ever though.
Colin McColinface

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