Fortunately, my husband loves offal so is happy to participate and my boys have years of training in the “don’t make a decision until you’ve tried it” school of culinary experimentation. Sweetbreads are scoffed on a regular basis and everyone is looking forward to the next pig heart so this week it was time to up the ante. I am egged on in this by Claire from Dom’s Kitchen who runs a “Nose to Tail Tue” competition where followers are encouraged to post their odd bit’s meals.
Foolishly, oh how foolishly I decided to attempt a Haggis … from scratch. Now I am not of Scottish descent but obviously thought that enjoying Haggis at St. Andrew’s Day celebrations was enough to warrant a Haggis making session. In retrospect akin to liking ice in a drink so deciding to become a polar explorer! I apologise in advance to anyone from North of Hadrian’s Wall as I understand just how much I have transgressed from tradition however I will offer excuses in advance:
- I have never seen anyone cook a haggis
- There are scant recipes on the net. All are wildly different and measurements seem to be optional.
- It was an already stressful and time poor week.
- It is so much more involved than I anticipated, left time for or could cope with that day …
- The sheep’s stomach was one of the most horrible kitchen experiences for me yet.
I got the kit and then started looking through recipes (see point 2).
As usual I picked the 3 recipes I liked the most and took my favourite bits from them (point 1).
Then I unwrapped the “kit”. Something smelled foul. Like really, really nauseating. It was obviously the sheep’s stomach. Following instructions (from 2 of the recipes) I decided to soak the stomach overnight in salt water and prayed that the smell reduced. Unfortunately, the following morning the smell was no better. Now I am not at all squeamish and the rest of the “kit” smelled fine. I wasn’t sure whether this was a normal smell (see point 1) or whether it was off or there was an issue. Having no time to find an alternative and not wanting to risk a) making us sick and b) compromising the taste of everything else I decided to jettison the stomach.
I then began to prep the heart, lungs, liver, tongue etc. that make up the Haggis. They all cooked happily in my slow cooker in veggie stock whilst I prepped the suet, onions, oats and spices that would make up the rest of the Haggis. Once the organs were cooked I fed them into the food processor in batches (thanks one of the recipes for suggesting this). Just in case anyone else is mad enough to make one themselves the quantity of meat is ENORMOUS. In fact, I ended up freezing fifty percent of the offal.
Once I’d mixed everything together I was happy with the texture but the taste was very, very strong. Here is where I duck and apologise to anyone Scottish … sorry. I thought that although it was OK I wanted to ensure (given the quantity I had) that it was very well received. And here is where I totally transgressed from any of the recipes … and added some minced beef.
Now obviously I had discarded the wrapping (the sheep’s stomach) so couldn’t stick to anything like the traditional Haggis methodology and boil it. So, I whacked it all back in the slow cooker with some of the cooking juice from the offal and left it to do its thing.
After a lot of stress, a fair number of false steps and a substantial step away from tradition the end result was amazing. All my “boys” loved it and when I served the leftovers for lunch today they were fighting over who got the most, which is always a good sign. The best part, I still have two huge portions of cooked Haggis in the freezer that I can use on an equally stressful day in the future and also 50% of the original “kit” still to use.