Saturday, February 21, 2009

Making the Haggis

This whole thing turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be. I'm not done yet either -- I still got a stash of haggis meat in my freezer waiting to be stuffed.

I did some research online, found a website with multiple haggis recipes.

The recipe I went with was a mix of those recipes, but with a few alterations.

1 sheeps stomach
1 lb of liver
A sheeps kidney
A sheeps heart
1 lb of steel cut Irish oats
1 lb of fatback (salt pork)
1/2 tsp each of cayenne pepper, and allspice

The original recipes called for suet instead of fatback. I couldn't find suet at the local markets. But I could get fatback at Cala market. I guess people in SF like pork fat more than beef/lamb fat.

I got the sheeps belly from this place in the Tenderloin.

The lady who runs the place didn't seem to believe I was serious when I special ordered a sheeps belly. She was two days late -- but she delivered.

The stomach itself though was not in good condition. It was split down the middle. The instructions said to boil it for 1.5 hours to clean out any impurities. The boiling was definitely necessary --- the stomach was filthy with residue from the grass the sheep ate. But the boiling weakened the lining that held the stomach together. I could have stuffed 4 lbs of organ meats and oats into it, but it would have been impossible to seal it well enough to handle a pot of boiling water.

From Storehouse

Reminds me of the the Alien movies.

I had to find a solution. Rummaging through the web, I found that using sheeps stomach is a really old school way of making haggis. Most haggis' these days are made using a kind of sausage casing called Beef Caps. Also, reading the updated recipes, it became apparent that the stomach (the thing that weirds out so many people) doesn't really impart any kind of flavor or texture to the haggis. Its just a cooking vessel -- albeit a gross one.

Solution -- cheese cloth and red leaf lettuce. I split the meat into two portions. I laid out the red leaf lettuce onto a sheet of cheese cloth, laid the haggis stuffing onto the lettuce, and rolled it up into a tootsie roll. This one I put into a boiling pot of water. The other portion I wrapped up with cheese cloth into a big Hershey's chocolate kiss looking thing and plopped it into a steamer.

From Storehouse

From Storehouse

After two hours of cooking, the steamed candy kiss haggis wasn't that ugly. It was the one we ended up eating.

From Storehouse

From Storehouse

The tootsie roll haggis was another story. Peeling off the cheese cloth, then the overcooked redleaf lettuce, I felt like an Egyptologist peeling the wraps off a mummy.

From Storehouse

Looks are deceiving though. How it tastes is what matters.

I thought the haggis' might come out OK, but wasn't sure. M was skeptical of it at first, but when she tried it, it reminded her of a breakfast hash type of thing she used to eat at a deli/cafeteria nearby one of her old jobs. She even suggested serving it on top of rice, a kind of Scottish-Japanese fusion food. I thought it was a tad salty, but liked it more with every bite. By the time we put away the plates most of the candy kiss haggis was gone.

Looking back on it, I can understand now those stories I've heard about Scottish people getting angry and upset at having their haggis (or is it haggi?) impounded at the border by Customs. On a cold wet evening (like we had tonight) haggis & mashed potatoes are comfort food. I can very easily see taking the leftover haggis meat and using it in a shepherds pie, or putting it into a rice ball wrapped in nori.

I leave with the following;


Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftan o’ the Puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang’s my arm

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
You pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’need
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead

His knife see Rustic-labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reeking, rich!

Then, horn for horn they stretch an’ strive,
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive
Bethankit hums

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash
His spindle-shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bluidy flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs, an’ arms an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle

Ye pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
An’ dish them out their bill o’fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ pray’r,

Gie her a Haggis!

1 comment:

  1. A haggis rice ball wrapped in nori?!?!?! Talk about the ultimate fusion food!