Monday, 14 January 2013

Time for Haggis!

Once a year my parents would bring out the hand cranked sausage- maker to make hurka.  Hurka is a Hungarian sausage made from  organ meats such as pork liver, lungs, head meat, rice, and onions.   After encased and twisted into individual sausages, they were then boiled in water.  Mom   would later fry them  up.  I was pretty grossed out as a kid and refused to eat the hurka because it contained organ meat.   Later in life, I developed a taste for it.  For some reason hurka  reminds me of haggis, probably because when I was a child,  it too was  made using several different organ meats.   Things have changed regarding that usage today.   Since Robbie Burn's Day is approaching on January 25th, I contacted my friend Alastair Barnett to share his thoughts and recipe about this Scottish culinary treasure.  Here’s what he had to say:

When I first arrived in the US, many moons ago from  Scotland, I was regularly asked, “What exactly is haggis?”  Being young and full of nonsense I exacerbated the myth by telling everyone: “A haggis is a fat wee hairy beastie that flies low o’er the Scottish moors in January. The best way to catch them is in a net, but you have to be quick.”
I’m much older now — still full of nonsense — but I will tell you that this is not the case, they’re not hairy at all!

Haggis is a tasty mix of   lamb, beef, oatmeal, onion, seasoning and spices in a natural casing. The haggis is usually fully cooked when you buy it and needs only to be baked, steamed or micro waved to piping hot. I never boil mine.  Maligned or not, in every country around the globe where Robert Burn’s birthday is celebrated, haggis is proudly served.
Alastair’s Haggis Stuffed Mushroom Caps with Drambuie Sauce
2 Portobello mushrooms
2 medium ice-cream scoops haggis.
Mashed potato or potato and turnips mixed. 
Your favourite shredded cheese.
1 tablespoon cooking oil
2 strips of smoky bacon
Brush or wipe the mushrooms. Fry two strips of bacon remove from pan and dice and mix into warm haggis. Sautee mushrooms on both sides until just barely tender. (about four minutes each side.  Don’t overcook. Mushrooms should be firm. Remove and place in ramekin hollow side up.  Spoon haggis into the centre. With a pastry bag, pipe around the edge of the dish with the mashed potato or turnip and potato mixture.  Brush with melted butter. Pour two tablespoons of Drambuie sauce over haggis. Lightly sprinkle your favourite cheese on top of haggis and bake in 425° oven for about 10-15 minutes until potato is lightly browned and haggis is heated through. Don’t allow the haggis to dry. Remove from oven. Spoon the remaining sauce over haggis just before serving. 

Drambuie Sauce
150ml. double cream 
100ml Drambuie
 1 teaspoon runny honey
 Salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the Drambuie in a small saucepan, and reduce by half.  Turn down the heat slightly   and stir in the double cream and honey. Continue to stir, and cook on low heat until combined and thickened. Don’t singe it.  Add a wee pinch of salt and pepper to taste. If it fails to thicken because the cream is not heavy enough, throw in a knob of butter mixed with a spoon of flour.   *Stir in a small amount of honey to the sauce at the end to lift the flavour of the Drambuie, taste as you go, stir in an extra dash of Drambuie just before serving.   

Address to the Haggis
Opening stanza: The beauty of this poem is, if you make a mistake when reciting it — nobody knows!

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

NB: My thanks to the villagers of Fearnan in the Perthshire Highlands (where I grew up) who contributed: Why not pay them a visit and say hello?

Thanks also to McSweens of Edinburgh: “Guardians of Scotland’s’ National Dish.”

Check out the formalities of a Burn’s dinner here .  
For more info on Alastair check out

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great info thanks for sharing!