Although now haggis is a thoroughly Scottish tradition, its early history could be French, Roman or Scandinavian. Some say the word “haggis” derives from the French term “hacher,” which means to chop up or mangle. Others insist a similar dish appears in sources as old as Homer’s “Odyssey,” while English food historian Clarissa Dickson-Wright claims that haggis came from Scandinavia “even before Scotland was a single nation.”
But while the dish’s exact provenance remains in doubt, food historians agree that it was a peasant food. Encasing hard-to-cook cuts like lungs and intestines along with undesirable muscle meats like liver and kidneys into a convenient stomach packaging would have been a wonderful way to feed a group—while making sure no meat went to waste.
Haggis languished uncelebrated until 1787, when poet Robert Burns penned his great ode “Address to a Haggis.” In his poem, Burns declares his love for the “great chieftain o’ the puddin’ race” and glorifies what was a poor man’s food into a dish greater than any French ragout or fricassee. Burns was already a national hero, and haggis’ profile soon soared. After Burns’ death, a group of his friends began commemorating him every year on his birthday, January 25, and so began the “Burns Supper” tradition. The suppers continue to this day, featuring Scottish food, Scotch whiskey and a grand presentation of the haggis to the assembled guests.
This should not however just be a one-off delicacy you eat once a year, it can be a great replacement for a Sunday dinner and why not when it tastes so good!
To source pluck, just ask your local quality butcher who will be able to get hold of the lungs, heart and liver for you and they are usually at great value.
The great thing about this nutritious meat dish is that no parts of the animal go to waste.
- Haggis Mix 250g
- Dried Suet 680g
- Cooked tops (pluck) (sheep/beef lungs, Heart (remove any sinews) and optional Liver 380g.
- Stock 250g
- Ox Bungs
- 1) Cook tops (sometimes called ‘the pluck’) which traditionally would be made up of Lamb or Beef Lungs, Heart (remove any sinews) and optional Liver, on a slow simmer for 45-60minutes.
- 2) Mince the meats on a coarse plate and add dried suet (either from a butcher or packet dried suet).
- 3) Add Haggis Mix to the cooked tops.
- 4) Soak either Natural Casings (1 hour) or the Nalo Haggis Bags (10 seconds & wait approx. 1 min before filling) in luke-warm water.
- 5) Stuff the meat into the skins, tie into links and leave to chill for 24 hours. If you haven't got access to a sausage stuffer, make into patties, chill for 24 hours, and cook as a burger.
- 6) Fill into casings (do not overstuff as the mix will expand) and cook for approximately 50 mins in the oven (wrap the Haggis loosely in tin-foil) at 180°C.