Sunday, 3 November 2013

Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties...and Kale

It seems a bit ridiculous to post anything about cooking haggis, neeps, and tatties as the directions are basically "boil and serve."  But tourists are always asking about haggis, so I figured North Americans might appreciate the novelty of the menu.

The meal began with a morning's trip to the Farmers' Market.  On my way out, I asked my husband if there was anything he wanted me to get, and he replied "game, maybe?  Perhaps a hare?"

Well, the main game stall that I go to was absent - I think the hunting season is over - and while I was unenthusiastically eyeing the venison I spotted something we hadn't had in ages.  Haggis!  So easy to cook, and the vegetables to accompany it are nearly always neeps (swede/rutabaga) and tatties (potatoes).  Just mashed, nothing special, but together they are wonderful.  So I got some haggis and then picked up the mash veg along with a bag of kale because, well, we all need our leafy greens.  Or purples.

I also remembered that I still owe my friend Maggie a package of veggie haggis in the post, so if you are reading this, Maggie, I will send it one day.  Just not today.

So what is haggis anyway?  Like sausage, it was invented to use up all the innards of the animal, in this case a sheep.  It's a mix of oats, spices, onion, and lamb offal, cooked up in a sheep's stomach.  Getting hungry yet?  Being Scotland, you can of course buy it battered and deep fried at the chippy, but that is not the traditional way to cook it.


First I tackled the Neeps.  Oh, swede, how I hate prepping you, especially when you are covered in soil and roots from East Lothian.


Then the potatoes.


I wrap the haggis in foil to steam them.  This way, if the skin bursts and it all comes spewing out, it doesn't disappear down into the boiling water.


I carefully trimmed and chopped the kale lovingly by hand.

Just kidding, into the food processor it went.


The potatoes went into the steamer too.


Then it all got mashed up with butter, hot milk, and seasoning.  When this was set before me (yes, my husband served up) I was excited.


I immediately went for the haggis, and my disappointment was extreme.  In 13 years of eating haggis I had never before had a "bad" haggis, but I suppose there is a first time for everything.  This was everything haggis should not be: gluey, flavourless, and bland.  I couldn't even taste any pepper.  It was truly awful offal.  

It was a bit like this, only with me, not this lovely model:


So I won't be posting any recipes below, I shall simply say stick with MacSween's haggis...or go to Saundersons at Tollcross, as they do a mean haggis too.  Just do not ever buy one from Peelham Farms.