How to cook haggis for Burns Night

With Burns Night just around the corner, it’s the perfect excuse for Scots all over the world to enjoy their nation’s most famous dish.

The evening is a celebration of the life and poetry of Scottish poet Robert Burns and is usually held on or near the poet’s birthday, January 25.

The story dictates a haggis – “a great chieftain of the puddin’ race!” – is carried into the room to the playing of bagpipes and serenaded with Burns’ grand paean to the stuffed sheep’s stomach, Address To A Haggis.

After a ceremonial piercing, the haggis is toasted with a traditional dram of whiskey.

The classic Scottish dish of haggis, with chips and tatties, traditionally served on Burns Night (stock image)

Five years after Burns’ death, in 1801, his friends gathered to celebrate his life and served haggis in his memory.

Since then, the traditional meal has become the centerpiece of Burns Night, which is a celebration of the life of the famous Scottish poet.

However, many people still balk at its description before it hits their plate.

Spicy pudding contains minced mutton ground with onions, oats, sat, spices and salt, mixed with stock and cooked.

While it was traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach, it is now in an artificial casing.

Geoff Baker, in-house executive chef for sustainable online meat company Farmison & Co, has shared his top Burns Night cooking tips and hacks, which aim to inspire people to give the Scottish delicacy a try.

Geoff, who started his professional kitchen career in 1983 and cooked for the late Queen, said: “There are two main ways to cook haggis; either by poaching or by roasting.

HAGGIS RECIPES

HAGGIS ON TOAST WITH BROWN SAUCE AND A FRIED EGG

Serves 2

Full Scottish breakfast: Jeff uses leftover haggis to spread brown gravy and fried egg on toast

Full Scottish breakfast: Jeff uses leftover haggis to spread brown gravy and fried egg on toast

Haggis is more versatile than we think and the chef said: “I like to use leftover haggis spread on toast and served with brown gravy and a fried egg.”

THE INGREDIENTS

  • Leftover haggis (approx 100g per person)
  • 2 slices thick-cut toasted kvass
  • Salted butter for spreading
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 75 ml of rich lamb or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons brown sauce
  • 5 g grated flat leaf parsley
  • Sea salt
  • Oil for frying

METHOD

  1. Bring stock to a boil, remove from heat and stir into brown sauce, keep hot
  2. Butter the toast then spread the haggis evenly over the toast and keep warm
  3. Gently fry the eggs in oil, leaving the yolk runny, then place on top of the haggis and sprinkle with a little sea salt
  4. Pour the sauce around the toast, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately

BEYOND THE HAGGIS

Serves 4

For a tasty plant-based alternative, try Beyond Meat's Beyond Haggis recipe, which is made with pearl barley and Beyond Mince

For a tasty plant-based alternative, try Beyond Meat’s Beyond Haggis recipe, which is made with pearl barley and Beyond Mince

THE INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 300 g Beyond Mince
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce or balsamic vinegar
  • 50 g of pearl barley
  • 200 ml of vegetable broth
  • 100 g cooked pui lentils
  • 25 g of rolled oats
  • 30 g vegetable salad
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • Neeps and tatties, to serve

METHOD

1. Cook pearl barley until al dente, then drain and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat, add the onion and cook for 10 minutes until softened. Stir in the ground coriander and cook for another minute. Add the Beyond Mince to the pan and use the back of your spoon to break it up. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until mince is golden.

3. Add the Worcester vegetable sauce or balsamic vinegar, cooked pearl barley and vegetable stock to the pan and mix well. Simmer for 5 minutes until the stock is absorbed, then transfer the mixture to a baking tray to cool. Once cool, add the cooked lentils, oats, lard, salt and pepper and mix well.

4. Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, place two sheets of foil about 40cm long on top of each other on a worktop or cutting board. Spoon the haggis filling into a line in the middle of the foil and press it into a sausage shape with your hands. Fold the bottom half of the cling film over the top of the filling and roll it up to form a tight bottom, making sure to turn the ends. Wrap the log in another layer of foil, twisting the ends tightly, and roll the log in one direction continuously until tight. Tie the ends together to form a handle.

5. Carefully lower the haggis into the boiling water, then lower the heat and cook for 30-40 minutes. Remove the haggis from the water and let it sit for a few minutes before unwrapping and serving with chips and tatties.

“My preferred method is baking in an oven, but whatever method you use, make sure you wrap the haggis tightly in foil before cooking.

“This will help prevent the haggis from bursting in the pan as it cooks and will set the delicious flavor.”

Geoff shared his poaching and roasting methods that won’t fail to bring poetry to every Scottish table on January 25th.

To bake the haggis:

1. Buy haggis

According to Jeff, you should always serve your haggis by splitting the casing with a sharp knife

According to Jeff, you should always serve your haggis by splitting the casing with a sharp knife

2. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas mark 6.

3. Remove any outer packaging but leave the haggis casing intact.

4. Wrap the haggis tightly in tin foil

5. Place the wrapped haggis in a casserole dish with a little water. (Water is key to stopping the haggis from drying out.)

6. Put in the oven and bake.

7. Using a meat thermometer, measure the core temperature of the haggis.

When it reaches a minimum of 75°C, your haggis is ready to serve.

If you don’t have a meat thermometer, cook the haggis for about an hour at 450g.

To poach or boil the haggis:

1. Buy haggis

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

3. Once boiling, reduce the pot of water to a simmer.

4. Wrap your haggis tightly in tin foil.

5. Add haggis to a pot of water and bring to the boil.

6. Using a meat thermometer, measure the core temperature of the haggis.

When it reaches a minimum of 75°C, your haggis is ready to serve. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, cook your haggis for about 45 minutes at 450g.

According to Jeff, it’s important to remember that regardless of the cooking method you choose to serve your haggis, you must split the casing with a sharp knife.

  • Farmison & Co, the sustainable online meat company, has increased its Burns Night product range this year with a box of Rabbie Burns Pie, Neeps and Tatties, new Balmoral Chicken along with the four traditional Haggis. Delivery from January 16 to 25 (pre-order).

WHO WAS ROBERT BURNS AND WHY IS HE CONTROVERSIAL?

Robert Burns was born on 25 January 1759 and died on 21 July 1796 and is widely regarded as Scotland’s national poet.

He was a high ranking member of the Freemasons and much of his popularity came from the fact that he was a farmer’s son who could talk to the common man.

But he also leads a varied social life that exposes him to different strata of society.

In his poems, he often used small themes to express big ideas and is often considered a pioneer of the Romantic movement.

For example, in “On a Mouse” he makes a comparison between the lives of mice and humans.

He was a source of inspiration for the founders of both liberalism and socialism after his death.

Burns has a national holiday named after him on January 25 each year.

At New Year’s his poem “Auld Lang Syne” is still sung today.

For 200 years, his birthday has been celebrated with dinners in his honor.

Poet Liz Lochhead singled out Robert Burns as a sexual pest, highlighting a 1788 letter written to Bob Ainslie in which Burns implied he had raped his pregnant friend Jean Armour.

He boasted that he had given his beloved a “thumping rock.” [a military attack breaching defences] that electrified the very marrow of her bones’ and said he ‘fucked her until she was happy’.

Lochhead described his letter as a “disgraceful sexual boast”.

‘[It] it was a lot like raping his pregnant girlfriend. It’s very, very Weinstein, she said.

“Not only does Burns make Weinstein claims in his correspondence, his poetry is rife with physical violence against women,” wrote Daniel Cook, senior lecturer in English at the University of Dundee in The Conversation.

“Published only after his death, The Merry Muses of Caledonia is full of the most nonsensical songs you’ll ever read,” he wrote.

However, Dr Cook says these works can help us re-examine human concerns.

“After Weinstein, the time is right to reassess how we respond to literary traditions,” he writes.

“However, instead of using literature (or personal correspondence) to expose so-called sexual pests, we can use it as a means of understanding the long history of sexual pests.”

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