I spotted a sign hanging at my local butchers recently that proudly displayed the selection of local game they were able to supply. All the usual suspects were there; mallard, pheasant, rabbit and pigeon. Then at the bottom of the list I saw they were also able to get hold of haggis. This was quite reassuring because to be frank, the haggis problem around my neck of the woods is starting to get out of control. Just the other day, I had to chase a pair out of my garden with a rake, as they are fond of digging up bulbs and shrubs. Wee blighters are fast too. As I watched them zip off into the distance, with that horrible shriek they make, I knew they would be back soon enough. So I’ve invested in a large net and plan to lure them in with some cat food (they favour Whiskers) and before long, I will have my own steady supply of haggis to eat.
Of course, haggises aren’t really these cute little woodland creatures that guilefully roam about the countryside. You know that and so do I. But I suspect for some, the idea of tucking into something that was once wild and free, sounds a lot more palatable than the prospect of slicing into a sheep’s stomach casing, stuffed with minced heart, liver and lungs, along with oats and spices. For that is what haggis truly is.
Now I actually love haggis and will gladly consume it throughout the year, without all the pomp and ceremony of having to toast it and hauling the ol’ bagpipes out (in our house, it’s a pink recorder). But there is something nice about eating it specifically for Burns Night. A bit of drama and theatricality at the end of a dreary January, along with some whisky, always goes down well. Normally I go out and simply buy one from the supermarket, but this year I decided to try and make one from scratch, as testimony to doing the whole nose to tail thing properly and in the spirit of adventure.
So I got hold of a haggis kit from Sous Chef, an online emporium of culinary delights and unusual ingredients, and conducted a road test to make sure I got everything right before next Monday. An abridged recipe that came with the kit will follow, but first I thought I should offer a few observations, should you be considering making your very own haggis. And I really think you should.