I did it. There was a lot of trepidation and wringing of hands, but I did it. I had a side of haggis with my full Scottish breakfast this morning. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t vomit. The taste wasn’t horrible although I’m not a fan of the taste of mace or nutmeg. The texture, however, was a bit, well, you know. I think it was the inclusion of sheep lung. And people make fun of Spam. It least Spam is made from pork shoulder along with a little spice and lots of fat and salt.
With a bit of haggis induced nausea, I set out from Edinburgh towards Inverness with a side trip to Aberdeen. A perfect fall day on secondary roads. Perfect for motorbike riding except I was in a car. There were plenty of motorbikes on the road though. All of the riders looking quite pleased with the day and the roads. I will say that I am getting quite adept at round-a-bouts; the intersection of choice in the UK. So far (key phrase being “so far”) I haven’t hit anyone, haven’t been honked at and, for the most part, have found all of my turns the first time around. I feel so accomplished.
The landscape between Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness is a Monet painting of rolling hills overlain with a checker board of green grass and golden harvested hay fields interspersed with rows of trees and a backdrop of Ceylon sapphire blue skies with cotton ball clouds. In and around Aberdeen, the livestock of choice appears to be bovine: Brown bovine, black bovine, black and white bovine but no brown and white bovine. South of Aberdeen there are sheep. North of Aberdeen, there are more sheep. Haggis is the national dish of Scotland after all. The by-product of haggis is cashmere sweaters. Just in case you would like to make haggis at home, here’s a recipe I found on the dish. The holidays are just around the corner and family is coming. Better make a double batch.
Recipe courtesy BBC
This is an authentic recipe from Scotland and the ingredients and methods of cooking may be unfamiliar but the BBC hopes that you enjoy the results.
1 sheep’s stomach, cleaned and thoroughly scalded, turned inside out and soaked overnight in cold salted water
The heart and lungs of one lamb
450g/1lb beef or lamb trimmings, fat and lean
2 onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground dried coriander
1 tsp mace
1 tsp nutmeg
Water, enough to cook the haggis
Stock from lungs and trimmings
Wash the lungs, heart and liver (if using). Place in large pan of cold water with the meat trimmings and bring to the boil. Cook for about 2 hours. When cooked, strain off the stock and set the stock aside. Mince the lungs, heart and trimmings. Put the minced mixture in a bowl and add the finely chopped onions, oatmeal and seasoning. Mix well and add enough stock to moisten the mixture. It should have a soft crumbly consistency.
Spoon the mixture into the sheep’s stomach, so it’s just over half full. Sew up the stomach with strong thread and prick a couple of times so it doesn’t explode while cooking. Put the haggis in a pan of boiling water (enough to cover it) and cook for 3 hours without a lid. Keep adding more water to keep it covered.
To serve, cut open the haggis and spoon out the filling. Serve with neeps (mashed swede or turnip) and tatties (mashed potatoes).