This modern day haggis has all the flavour of the traditional

Kitchen Wit and Wisdom: A toast to the haggis and other fine fare

Robbie Burns Day is Jan. 25 and the annual event celebrates the Scottish poet with traditional food and a wee dram or two of whisky

Tomorrow is Robbie Burns Day, a Scottish holiday named after poet and writer Robert Burns, whose poetry is loved and read worldwide.

Highlights of any Robbie Burns festival often include the bagpipes, Scotsmen in kilts and the reading of Burns’ poem, Address to a Haggis. But no Robbie Burns’ feast would be complete without the dish of choice — haggis.

A traditional haggis combines the boiled and minced liver, lungs and heart of a sheep mixed with chopped onions, toasted oatmeal, salt, pepper and spices, all stuffed into the cleaned sheep’s stomach, sewn up and then boiled gently for several hours. (My response is almost a gag.) Thank heavens there are vegetarian recipes available.

Mashed neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes), and Scotch whisky are also traditionally served with the haggis.

Today I offer a modern haggis recipe where instead of the sheep’s stomach, you cook the haggis in a casserole dish. The dessert is a quick throw together, and the shepherds pie is a traditional Scottish recipe using lamb. Happy Robbie Burn’s Day to all of Scottish descent.

Modern Haggis with Whisky Sauce

500g beef liver

250g finely chopped onions

500g minced lamb

500g minced beef

100g of porridge oats

125g suet (beef or vegetable)

300ml of  meat stock (strain this from the boiled meat)

½ tsp. grated nutmeg

¼ tsp. ground mace

½ tsp. of cayenne pepper

¼ tsp. ground coriander

Butter for greasing

Sea salt

Ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 160 C.

Cover the roughly-cut liver with cold water, bring to a boil and cook for five minutes. Strain and cool and then chop the liver with the onion, in a blender or on a board, as finely as you can.

Cover the lamb and beef mince with water and bring to the boil in a large pot. Cook for approximately 40 minutes, and then cool. Keep 300ml stock from this cooked meat.

Give the porridge oats a rough chop and toast them in a hot pan or under a grill, shaking occasionally to make sure they don’t burn. Mix all the ingredients together with the stock and transfer to a well-greased casserole dish and cover with a layer of tin-foil. Place in a water bath using a pan large enough to accommodate the dish and add boiled water around it, to come ¾ of the way up the dish. Check this from time to time and top up the water level. Cook for about 2½ hours and serve immediately.

The picture shows how to stack up for presentation.

Whisky sauce:

500ml cream (2 cups minus 2 tbsp.)

2 tsp. wholegrain mustard

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 tsp. Irish whisky

Sea salt

Ground white pepper

3 tbsp. chopped scallions

To make the whisky sauce, heat the cream in a pan over medium heat. Add the wholegrain mustard, Dijon mustard, scallions and whisky and stir with a small whisk. Increase the heat until the mixture is simmering and cook for 1-2 minutes until it thickens up a little. Remove the pan from the heat and season with salt and ground white pepper.

To serve: spoon out the haggis, accompanied with mashed turnips and potatoes and drizzle with the whiskey sauce. If you have to heat it up again, do so in a microwave on full power and make sure it is piping hot. The haggis pictured was made using a small can opened at both ends to layer.

Scottish Bumbleberry Pudding

3-4 cups assorted frozen fruit (blackberry, raspberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, blueberries, bilberries, cherries and strawberries)

1 – 4 tablespoons sugar, to taste

Crumble topping

2 cups plain flour

1 cup butter, cut into small pieces

1/3 cup caster sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F (180 C).  You will also need a shallow ovenproof baking dish with a diameter of 9 inches (23 cm), 1-1/2 inches (4 cm) deep.

First, make the topping. All you do is place the sifted flour, butter and caster sugar in the processor and give it a whiz until it resembles crumbs. If you don’t have a processor, place the flour in a large mixing bowl, then add the butter and rub it into the flour lightly, using your fingertips. Then when it all looks crumbly, and the fat has been dispersed fairly evenly, add the sugar and combine that well with the rest of the ingredients.

Now arrange the mixed fruit in the dish and sprinkle over the sugar to taste, then the crumble mixture, spreading it out all over the fruit with a fork. Place the crumble on a high shelf in the oven and bake it for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is golden and crisp.

Serve with chilled pouring cream, custard, whipped cream, creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream.

Scottish Shepherd’s Pie

with Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 white onion, chopped

4 carrots, peeled and cubed

5 thyme sprigs

1 pound ground lamb

Salt & pepper

1 cup frozen peas, defrosted

1/3 cup pepperoncini


3 large Russet potatoes, peeled, cubed, cooked in salted water till tender

5 ounces goat cheese

1/3 cup milk

Salt & pepper

To make filling, heat oil in large pot. Add onion, carrots and thyme and cook for about 8 minutes. Add the lamb and sauté till it’s brown. Remove thyme sprigs, season with salt and pepper, add peas and pepperoncini.

To make the topping, combine cooked and drained potatoes with goat cheese and milk, season with salt and pepper, and mash.

Preheat the oven to 375. Add the filling to the bottom of your baking pan(s). Top the filling with mashed potatoes. I piped mine using a large plastic bag and snipping off a little corner. Bake the shepherd(s) pies for 25 minutes, then put  under a broiler for 5-8 minutes till the potatoes turn a gorgeous golden brown colour.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every other Wednesday and one Sunday per month.



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