Haggis is perhaps the quintessential dish of Scotland and makes a wonderful meal for celebrations, such as, famously, Burns Night.
Robert Burns, aka Rabbie Burns, (1759 -1796) is Scotland’s most famous poet. He is celebrated in Scotland and beyond on the anniversary of his birth (January 25th) which is known as Burns Night. Robert Burns may be Scottish, but the celebrations are held throughout the world, anywhere his work is appreciated. The celebrations take place around a highly ceremonial Burns Night Supper.
It seems that the English are getting in on the traditional Burns Night supper. As they grow in popularity outside of Scotland, estimates are that in England alone there will be over 1,000 suppers, more than any other country in the world.
Despite its growing popularity, many Scots would argue that the English still have a long way to go when it comes to serving up haggis, neeps, and tatties though.
The centerpiece for any Burns supper is, of course, the haggis. Thanks to the Q-Guild in Britain, which represents 140 of Britain’s best butchers, we've put together the following tips to help buy and prepare the perfect haggis:
- For a superior Haggis, look to your local butcher to produce a much better haggis than the mass-produced versions packed into plastic casings and sold in most supermarkets. Your butcher will also give you all the advice you require about quantity, storage. and cooking.
- Most butchers will have their own secret formula which could include pork or even venison, even though Haggis is traditionally made using lamb and beef offal with oatmeal and seasoning. These butchers will rarely give their secrets away.
- There are other interesting variations including the addition of things like whisky, Drambuie, and even curry so look out for them.
- As a starter, you need approximately 100 grams/ 4 ounces per person and as a main, 150 grams to 200 grams/6 to 8 ounces per person.
- According to the Guild, important to note is Haggis is already cooked, so all that needs to be done before serving is to reheat it until piping hot
- Traditionally haggis is simmered slowly in hot water (be careful not to boil or the haggis may burst and cause culinary carnage) for around 35 to 40 minutes per 450 grams/1 pound.
- Once the packaging is removed, the haggis can be wrapped in foil, placed in a casserole dish with a little water, and cooked in a preheated oven at 180 C (gas mark 6) until ready. Timings will depend in the size of your haggis.
- To microwave it (dear Rabbie Burns would turn in his grave), remove all the packaging plus the skin. Cut the haggis into slices, and place in a microwave dish. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes then break up the haggis with a fork, and cook for a further 3 to 4 minutes. Once again, timings depend on the size of the haggis.
- Should you be brave enough to make your own haggis, then you will need to order lamb or pig pluck – the lungs, heart, and liver - from your butcher plus either a plastic or natural casing to cook it in.