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Scotland the brave . . .

So says the Scottish national anthem and maybe there is nothing braver than eating haggis . . . unless of course you include making a haggis! Last week it was the American holiday for Thanksgiving, this weekon the 30th November it is St Andrews Day, the Scottish national day. In preparation for this, here with Hub-UK, I thought I would prepare you for it by letting you know about the (in)famous Scottish of all Scottish dishes; the haggis, which I know you will all be dying to try . . .

No, it is not some weird furred, winged creature that roams the highlands and has a limited hunting season, it is in fact really just a type of pate or terrine cooked in a natural casing. Much like a large sausage, the English black pudding and faggot or the French crepinettes really. It is, I know not for everyone, but believe me if you do like offal, if you enjoy pate, you will love haggis.

Haggis is eaten at anytime, but always traditionally served at a dinner to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the Scottish poet Burns and Hogmanay (New Year). In celebration, it is always carried to the table and a poem by Burns is read. The poem is an ode to the haggis and was composed within two weeks of Burns' arrival in Edinburgh, it was printed in the pages of the Caledonian Mercury, on 20th December, 1786.

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


HaggisIngredients for Haggis

sheep's stomach



fresh suet



sheep light (lung)



sheep heart



sheep liver



sheep kidney



king's hood






onions (finely chopped)






freshly ground pepper






beef stock



How to make Haggis

Pre - preparation of Haggis

  • 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 (lungs), the liver and the heart. The bags take a great deal of washing. They must be first thoroughly washed in cold running water, then plunged into boiling water and after that, they must be scraped and turned inside out. Take great care of the bag: it is to be filled and 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 for later use.

Preparation of Haggis

  • Haggis recipe Haggis recipe Haggis recipe
    Boil the offal in the stock until tender, cool slightly and mince coarsely
  • Finely chop the suet
  • Place the oatmeal (finely ground or rolled oats) on a tray and lightly toast under the salamander (grill) tossing occasionally to ensure even toasting
  • Mix all the ingredients and adjust into a soft consistency with some stock
  • Season to taste
  • Place into the stomach bag (that was previously turned inside out), filling 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

Cooking of Haggis

  • Using a pot which will easily hold the haggis, place a plate or trivet in the bottom of the pan to protect it from any direct heat
  • Place the haggis on the trivet, add salted water or stock to just cover the haggis
  • Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for three hours, pricking occasionally to allow air to escape
  • Place on a hot platter, removing the trussing strings
  • Slice and serve with a spoon, "neeps and nips" (mashed turnips and nips of whiskey) plus mashed potatoes

Chef's Tip for Haggis

No tip, just the Robbie Burns poem . . .

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

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hrdies like a distant hill,
Your 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 sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, 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 lyke 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 ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro' bloody 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,
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

Enjoy your Haggis and bon appetit . . . . .

Chef's terminology:

litres   tsp = teaspoon
millelitres   tbs = tablespoon
kilograms   sq = sufficient quantity (add to taste)
grams   pc = piece, meaning a whole one of

Recipe from professional
Chef Tallyrand

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