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Aug 9, 2010 10:01 PM

Haggis - not so creepy after all.

Had two kinds of Haggis this weekend by folks celebrating their Scottish roots at their wedding. They had ordered it in from somewhere - mail order i think - steak and lamb.

Both were good, both tasted organ-y, in a good way, rich and earthy, texture of oatmeal was nice - just a nice flavorful little mellow stew.

Anyone else had a bad /good experience, or recommend that i try it homemade sometime? I understand that most mail order versions probably aren't made the traditional way, i.e., in a sheep's stomach lining...

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  1. Haggis gets such a bad rap but it's not that different than eating a sausage or a hot dog.

    Until I moved to Scotland four years ago I was in the ewwww gross camp, then I tried it. It really is a delicious, and I've sampled it used in different preperations- and even cooked a (ready made) one myself one year for Burns Night. Considering I used to be veggie I think that's quite a conversion!

    One of my fav scottish dishes is balmoral chicken- pounded chicken breasts stuffed with haggis and rolled up, served with a whiskey cream sauce. Yum.

    I don't think most haggis you buy in a supermarket these days are cooked inside a sheep's stomach anymore- they're prepared in a processed casing same as a hot dog or sausage. But whenever I make it whole, I always slit the casing and eat the yummy insides anyway served over mashed potato and turnip in the traditional manner so the whole stomach or not thing isn't a problem for me. With a drizzle of gravy it's pure winter comfort food!

    2 Replies
    1. re: crispysaltysweet

      Wow--I don't think I have EVER seen haggis is a supermarket!

      1. re: crispysaltysweet

        wow, the balmoral chicken sounds delicious!

      2. I like haggis, although don't eat it too often. When I do, it's in the traditional Scottish way with "neeps and tatties" (mashed swede and potato). Best time I ever ate it was in a fairly upmarket restaurant in Glasgow, where it was served as a starter.

        It's usually always available in the supermarket so I've never even considered making it at home. I suspect some of the ingredients, such as lamb lungs, heart and stomach, may not be too easy to source, even in sheep country.

        3 Replies
          1. re: smartie

            I think what a neep is might depend on where you're saying it. I would certainly use turnips instead, as my screwed-up sense of smell/taste has rendered rutabagas repellent to me.

            Note about haggis ingredients: totally genuine Scottish haggis cannot be sold in this country because lungs are not permitted to be sold as food. My understanding is that we aren't missing much.

            1. re: Will Owen

              No, you're not missing much in that case (although minced up, you can;t identify what is what). I had the misfortune to eat identifiable bits of lungs some years ago in very traditionally cooked dish of Frit de Matances in Mallorca. The circumstances of the hospitality meant they had to be chewed and swallowed, rather than spat out which is what they deserved.

        1. I've had it probably 20 times, always in Scotland (have been fortunate enough to visit regularly in the past few years). The best ones have been in small village restaurants, where they were sourced from local butchers.

          Don't even think about making it at home. Depending on where you are it might be hard to get the proper ingredients. There are farmers at my local market willing to sell the pluck, and I've thought about trying. However, my Scottish cookbooks all start the haggis recipe with a disclaimer that it is something you should rather purchase. The first step is to boil the pluck for a couple of hours with the windpipe hanging over the side of your pot, over a jar to catch the liquid that cooks out of the stomach...not a process I'm interested in trying!

          7 Replies
          1. re: Dan G

            oh, no, not me! i guess i meant if i were lucky enough to travel to Scotland and have it at someone's home. but i guess as you're saying, better even then to have it in a nice small restaurant. thx.

            1. re: mariacarmen

              What I think Dan is saying (and he's correct) is that we don't make our own haggis at home here in the UK. We buy one from the butcher or supermarket and heat it up. Maybe one of the major producers exports to wherever you are - the most readily available are McSween's. (and they're pretty good)

              1. re: Harters

                Harters, thanks for the tip. While I've had some luck making scrapple from scratch (pig and cornmeal instead of sheep and oats) the haggis recipes are rather daunting, especially when you're not in mutton country at all. Good quality canned sounds promising to me. I'll go look for it.

                1. re: Will Owen


                  I believe I've had scrapple in Pennslyvania at an Amish style restaurant. IIRC, it's a much firmer texture than haggis - a bit like a slice of meatloaf. Haggis is very loose, once it's out of its casing - think minced (ground) meat. Both very tasty.


                  1. re: Harters

                    For the record - though you might know this already - there is an oatmeal variant on the scrapple theme, a dish called goetta. Still pork, though.

                    Yes, some of the comments I've read liken haggis more to corned beef hash than the much firmer scrapple, particularly the homemade hash which is much looser and coarser then the canned. I did find a well-reviewed brand on Amazon, which I intend to order as soon as I get my next bit of money...

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      if you think of it, will you report on it? i'd love to know how it compares to what i had. thanks all! especially insight from Harters - and yes, that's my limited experience from this weekend, that it's loose, not at all solid.

                2. re: Harters

                  I have a friendship of many decades with a Scotsman living in London and he always made his own haggis for Rob't Burns day as long as he could invite enough people to appreciate it. It was only when those dwindled down to a precious few that he settled for pre-made. Although, if I recall correctly, he has said that he can only find a decent one at Harrod's.

            2. I had haggis at a Burns dinner a few years ago. I don't care for organ meat, or liver, but figured I would try it. To me it tasted like liverwurst. Close to that texture too. I didn't like it but ate my piece. (I don't like liverwurst either so don't go by me. Of course, we all know that wild haggis is best so what I got here in NH was probably not the best.


              3 Replies
              1. re: calliope_nh

                Similar experience to calliope -- Scottish guy I work with scares up a haggis every Robbie Burns day and "addresses" it, kilt, pipes an' a' that. Suffice to say I enjoy his poetry reading more than the dish itself but I'm not much for offal.

                Here's a link if you want to read the poem:

                FYI Sidehill gougers are delicious.

                1. re: grayelf

                  We did a Burns Night dinner, no haggis to be had in Nashville, but trout rolled in chopped-up steel-cut oats and fried is pretty good. I had written a parody of "To a Haggis", entitled "To a Paté" (everyone was beating up on Yuppies then), that began, "Hail to thy pale, pink, glist'nin' face / Spoilt Princess of the Meat Loaf race..." It got little better than that, but the dinner was enjoyed by all, even Mrs. O, who does not care for kale. Haggis would have helped, though.