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Haggis


Haggis

I absolutely love my Scottish Haggis. I really do ! So, if you're on tour with me and you try some, and don't like it, pass it across the table to me. Here's a wee recipe for authentic Haggis taken from "Traditional Scots Recipes" by Janet Murray.

The Haggis

There are many different ways of making a haggis as far as the composition of the materials is concerned. Some people like minced tripe in it, some do not; some only like a very small portion of the lights (lungs). This recipe is a standard one, you may make adjustments as you wish.

Obtain the large stomach bag of a sheep, also one of the smaller bags called the King's hood, together with the 'pluck' which is the lights, the liver and the heart. The bags take a great deal of washing. They must be washed first in running cold water, then plunged into boiling water and after that, they must be scraped. Take great care of the bag which is to be filled for if it is damaged it is useless. When you are satisfied it is as clean as you can make it, let it soak in cold salted water overnight. The pluck must also be thoroughly washed; you cook it along with the little bag.

Boil the pluck and the little bag in a large pot with plenty of water, (leaving the windpipe hanging over the side of the pot as this allows impurities to pass out freely) for about an hour and a half before removing it from the pot and allowing it to cool. Reserve the cooking liquid forlater use.
When cold, start preparing the filling by cutting away the windpipe and any gristle and skin. Use only a third of the liver and grate it, then mince the heart, the lights, and the little bag. It may be that you find that the heart and the king's hood are not boiled enough in the hour and a half, and if so, put them back in the pot and boil until tender.

Chop finely one-half pound of beef suet.

Toast three handfuls of oatmeal (finely ground oats, or rolled oats; NOT the "instant" or "quick cooking" oats) on a cookie sheet in the oven, and then mix all the ingredients - minced lights, grated liver, minced heart, minced king's hood, suet, oatmeal, salt and a good shaking of black pepper. Make this into a soft consistency with the water in which the pluck,etc. was boiled; then place into the stomach bag. Fill only a little over half full as the mixture swells. Sew up the bag with strong thread and the haggis is now ready for cooking.

Use a pot which will easily hold the haggis, and place a plate or trivet in the bottom of the pan. Place the haggis on the trivet, and add water to almost cover the haggis. Bring the water to a boil, and keep it boiling steadily for three hours, pricking occasionally to allow air to escape.
The haggis should be served on a platter without garnish or sauce.

Something a little "Simpler"

For those of you who don't really wish to take the effort to produce the 'real thing', here's another recipe for a "simple haggis".
1/2 lb. liver in a piece 4 oz. chopped suet

1/2 lb. cooked tripe 4 oz. chopped onion

4 oz. finely ground oatmeal salt and black pepper

Boil the liver in a saucepan with just enough water to cover it for 15 minutes (this is just long enough to 'set' it). Grate it or put it through a mincer; mince the cooked tripe also.

Mix all the ingredients, seasoning well with the pepper and salt. Make it into a moist dough with some of the water in which the liver was cooked. Boil in a cheesecloth or cotton cloth tied into a bag for 2 hours, or steam in a bowl for 3 hours.

F. Marian McNeill, in her ever-popular book The Scots Kitchen, concludes a comprehensive description of that peculiarly Scottish article, the haggis, with the suggestion that " the use of the paunch of the animal as a receptacle of the ingredients gives that touch of romantic barbarism so dear to the Scottish heart."

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