What is haggis?
Contrary to what some believe, you can’t hunt down a haggis at the top of Scottish mountains, hills, glens or moors. Haggis is a type of sausage or savory pudding that combines meat with oatmeal, salt and spices. Once considered a poor-man’s dish made from leftovers, haggis is now highly popular and features on menus across the country.
Most often, haggis is served as part of the world-famous Burns Supper, an annual celebration of the life and work of Scotland’s National Bard, Robert Burns. A traditional Burns Supper is served with peeled and mashed neeps (turnip), tatties (potatoes), haggis and whisky.
However, more contemporary haggis dishes found in restaurants and pubs across Scotland include ‘The Flying Scotsman’ which consists of a chicken breast stuffed with haggis or the excellent ‘Balmoral Chicken’ which is identical, but is also wrapped in bacon. Vegetarian haggis made from oats and lentils is also readily available .
Where does haggis come from?
The first written mention of haggis comes from the ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes in 423 BC. The actual origin remains a mystery, although it is said that thousands of years ago hunters would mix offal which couldn’t be preserved with cereal - creating the first haggis. It also has Viking connections, with strong similarities to the Swedish word ‘hagga’ and the Icelandic ‘hoggva’, both meaning to chop or hew. Haggis-type dishes can still be found in Scandinavia today.
How do you cook haggis?
Haggis requires heating until piping hot, and can be boiled in the bag, baked in the oven or microwaved, although make sure to remove the packaging, metal clips and casing first.
This versatile dish doesn’t need to be confined to Burns night alongside neeps and tatties. Why not try delicious haggis nachos, canapés or lasagne? The recipe book by Jo Macsween, from the acclaimed Edinburgh haggis-making family, features 50 mouth-watering haggis dishes with a twist.
Find more information about The Macsween Haggis Bible or visit the Macsween website.