making haggis was like when i ran a marathon in 2002. i didn’t feel well after. i wasn’t sure if i had enjoyed myself or if i’d been injured. i’ll never forget it. but crossing the finish line, volunteers wrapping me in a foil blanket like a human donair… holy frig, what a sense of accomplishment! this was like that, minus a lot of the accomplishment.
i think of haggis as kind of a savoury pudding, like blood pudding. or like, a really huge sausage. either way, awesome. how my scottish brethren of yore did this sans modern appliances is really awe-inspiring & confusing to me.
this post is part tutorial and fully my ego’s annihilation. what possessed me to do a tutorial of something i have never done and have no qualifications for is beyond me. maybe my daily prayer has been answered. i was certain my photography skills would peak. the ingredients would sing. this wouldn’t just be an Address to a Haggis. no no, this would be a Broadway Musical to the Haggis. what we got is more of a Limerick Scrawled on the Bathroom Stall to a Haggis. that’s fine.
if you don’t want to see lamb guts, go no further. now, like any first marathon, there is a strong start full of hope, optimism, and all the right ingredients. in truth, you could make multiple haggis (haggi?) out of this, but i ended up making one monster sized haggis (see above: minimal experience or skill). recipe adapted from the bbc.
1 sheep’s stomach or beef bung, cleaned, scalded, turned inside out and soaked overnight in cold water (got mine at sanagans)
lamb pluck – the heart, lungs and liver (got at stock in trade)
1lb beef or lamb trimmings (i used 2 big lamb shoulder chops & a beef cheek, also sanagans)
2 onions, finely chopped
1c toasted steel-cut oats
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground dried coriander
1 tsp mace
1 tsp nutmeg
stock from lungs and trimmings
endurance, humility, strong sense of self
LAMB PLUCK. i really had a moment here with the lungs. they’re the silkiest texture i have ever touched in my life. newborn babies feel like 40-grit sandpaper in comparison to these. without even trying to make a shitty joke here, it was genuinely breathtaking. at this point, i am one with the ingredients. i will honour them all with exquisite photography. i am the haggis. we are all the haggis.
remove as much of the arteries and tendons and fascia as is possible.
BUNG. beef bung is a part of the intestine. no, i’m not sure which part. i did not google this.if you don’t want your arm to smell like you were fisting a beef bung, don’t spend so much time fisting the beef bung. i test its structural integrity. large animals could surely use this as a condom.
once you have scalded the beef bung in boiling water, turn it inside out & put it into a thing of ice cold water and let it sit overnight. or if you are like me, submerge for most of the day & just hope for the best. it’s probably just a suggestion. like recommended serving sizes. or expiry dates.
time for a Very Arty spice shot. clockwise from the orange stuff: mace, coriander seed, nutmegs, black peppercorn. buying pre-ground would be fine. but oh, not today because this isn’t hard enough and these guts deserve the best. note the half-hearted attempt to stage measuring spoons in the background. you tried.boil all of the organ meats and trimmings for 2 hours in a huge pot. strain off the stock, and keep the stock for the next step. now is an excellent time to abandon all hope of realizing your potential as a food photographer today. the wheels are coming off. just keep it on the road.maybe you’d like to see that i opted to chop the 2 onions in the food processor? you can do it by hand, though. i also pulled out any remaining tendon / bone from the meats, and working in small batches, pulsed all the organ meat & trimmings in the food processor as well.
note that i used rolled oats, which i have since learned is a fuck-up. MY BAD. do as i say, not as i do: in the biggest bowl you have, you’re going to add in 1 cup of toasted steel-cut oats, 1/2c butter, salt, spices, the meat, and onions. butter isn’t traditional either. neither are food processors or the internet, but we’ve made it this far.
make one last half-hearted attempt to revive the dream that you can honour this process with soigné food photography. a rattling last gasp before complete system failure:
mix it all together with a wooden spoon. let your arm fatigue lead you into challenging questions. why do you do everything the hard way? are you ok? then, add just enough of the stock to make the mixture come together like a very dry meatball. this was ~6 cups for me.
OPTIONAL FUN STEP: try to fill the bung by hand, seasoning the mixture with your frustration tears. then, dig out the sausage stuffing attachment for your KitchenAid. things from here on out get… blurry…you’re in survival mode now. the finish line is too far to be excited about but close enough to hate yourself if you gave up. someone else needs to take the wheel. what metaphor are we using again?feed the bung onto the sausage stuffer tube, so that you begin to fill at the closed end. if you are new to sausage stuffing, take your time. marathons aren’t won in the last mile alone, just keep your pace.
WHAT THE. it’s done?! HOW? i know it seems like i skipped a zillion steps here, but this is actually what happens when the bung has been successfully stuffed. pressing the filling through the KitchenAid, fill the bung until it is taut, but would still fit in your biggest pot. for this haggis, i used about 4/5 of the stuffing. you can put the remainder in the freezer where it will keep well until you throw it out in a few months.with a piece of kitchen twine, tie off the haggis.can you even believe you did this!>?!?!you made it!!! collect your finisher’s medal and curl up on the floor in a foil blanket.
apparently from here on out, you poke some holes with a fork to make sure it doesn’t burst and boil it for 3 hours. i assume our ancestors let it cook so long because it’s also how long you need to rest quietly afterwards.
HAPPY ROBBIE BURNS DAY!