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seasoning homemade "sausage" (haggis)

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This is a question about haggis, but the principle really applies to any kind of sausage-esque dish where you need to spice and season the product without being able to taste it..

Last year I made a haggis for Robbie Burns night and though it turned out great, the seasoning was off and I want to get it right this year.

For the sausage/haggis/whatever makers among us, how do you test the seasonings of a dish where you're not able to taste it until after it's done and on the table?

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  1. The only way I know of is to select the seasonings you intend to use, make careful notes regarding quantity ratios each time you prepare it and adjust as necessary. Haggis is very difficult to season without using an established recipe (which, coincidentally, was most likely developed this same way) because of the reasons you've already discovered - it can't be taste tested raw.
    Select from coriander, nutmeg, mace, all spice, cinnamon, variety of onion, etc. - generally speaking, the more aromatic the herb or spice the better the flavor of the haggis.

    1. I've only made sausage a few times, but found it worked fairly well to take a small sampling of the seasoned meat, toss it in a frying pan, and taste test the cooked result.

      1 Reply
      1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

        I think BBL hit it on the head and todao has a good point.
        I don't know the nuances of haggis, but I regularly make sausage. Season the meat as you think (making notes along the way), fry up a bit and try it. Adjust (making notes) accordingly.
        I make Italian sausage all the time and honed my recipe down, so I don't pre-test. I do the fry-test whenever making a new type of sausage.

      2. Trick is that with a haggis, the offal is cooked first (boiled) at which point, if you're doing it right, it looks and tastes like ass. Then you add the oats, uncooked, then fat, then seasonings. Into the casing it goes to rest and then, the next day, to poach for three hours before service. As far as I'm concerned, it's impossible to fry up and taste before the oats are cooked in the poaching liquid.

        Trial and error really the only way to get-r-done, eh?

        4 Replies
        1. re: biggreenmatt

          mmmm tastes like ass.

          whats it taste like ifn you're not doing it right?

          I see your point, but what if you boil up the offal, add fat, then seasonings, then taste test? Again, forgive my ignorance on haggis, but would this at least give an indication? Or would it still be a long way off from adding the oats and cooking again?

          1. re: porker

            The risk in tasting the Haggis at the stage you mentioned here is that all of the seasonings are on the surface, not having had a chance to combine for the ultimate flavor profile sought. That means we have no reference point upon which to base our judgment about how the finished product will taste. It it's well mixed and a piece is fried slowly there is a better chance of finding the "clue" re: the flavor but it's still a risky proposition. When in doubt, add more onion.

            1. re: todao

              Does the onion ease the ass flavor or enhance?
              I see your point. Damn that haggis!

            2. re: porker

              Haggis is kind of like gefilte fish in that way. It completely (and utterly) stinks in the beginning stages, but done right it comes out sublime. Believe you me: you try boiling lungs for an hour or so and see what smells come out.

              todao makes an excellent point, but also the damn thing needs hours of poaching to get really going. With the poaching and cooking of the oats, the entire thing mellows, the spices seep through the meat and starch and makes the entire thing beautiful. This is why I despair at trying to figure out how much of what seasoning to use.

              Stupid haggis.