There are a couple of special celebration nights in Scotland – Burns Night and Hogmanay – when the traditional dish of haggis, tatties, and neeps is served. Haggis is a famous Scottish preparation similar to black pudding in texture, made out of sheep's offal (lung, liver, heart), spices, onions, and suet, and cooked in the animal's stomach. Nowadays, it's normally cooked in casings rather than the stomach. It is always served with mashed potatoes (tatties) and mashed turnips (neeps).
Keep in mind that depending on where you are located, neeps may mean something different. In England, neeps are considered turnips. However, in Scotland, neeps are considered rutabaga.
The haggis makes or breaks this recipe, so make sure you buy a good quality haggis, be it traditional meat or a vegetarian type.
- 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 lb haggis
- 1 1/4 lb potatoes (peeled and roughly chopped)
- 1 1/4 lb turnips (peeled, roughly chopped)
- 1 pinch nutmeg (freshly grated)
- 4 tablespoons milk
- 4 tablespoons butter
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
Cooking the Haggis
Cook the haggis first by placing it in a large pot and covering it with cold water. Cover the pan with a lid, bring to boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 40 minutes per pound; for a 3 1/2 lb haggis you need 2 hours and 20 minutes.
While the haggis cooks, cook the potatoes and turnips.
Cooking the Potatoes
Place the potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, add a pinch of salt, and cover the pan with a lid.
Bring the potatoes to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender or approximately 20 minutes.
Drain the potatoes, mash with a potato masher or ricer, and reserve.
Add half of the butter and half the milk to the pan in which the potatoes were cooked and melt on medium heat.
Add the potatoes to the pan, mix well. Add nutmeg and stir well to create a smooth, creamy mash.
Cooking the Turnips
Place the turnips in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, add a pinch of salt, and cover the pan with a lid.
Bring the turnips to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender or approximately 20 minutes.
Drain the turnips and use a ricer or potato masher to process. Reserve.
Add the remaining butter and milk to the pan in which you cooked the turnips. Melt over medium heat. Add the cooked turnips and stir until smooth and creamy.
Once cooked, remove the haggis from the water, place on a serving dish and let rest for 5 minutes before cutting it open with scissors or a knife. Slice it and serve with tatties and neeps. A wee dram of Scotch whisky would be traditional to accompany this truly Scottish meal.
Traditional Haggis Dinner
Although a meal of haggis, potatoes, and turnips is hearty and filling enough, you can offer other dishes to make it a truly Scottish spread:
- Start your meal with a small bowl of Cock-a-Leekie soup, a traditional chicken and leek soup, thickened with rice and flavored with carrots and spices.
- Make the haggis your main dish, always making sure all guests have potatoes and turnips alongside their haggis.
- Finish your dinner with Scottish cranachan, a delicious dessert made out of toasted oatmeal, cream, whisky, and raspberries, layered in a beautiful presentation.