Monthly Archives: February 2011

Not Awful Offal!

Haggis, that


I’ve heard haggis described as “a sheep, turned inside out”. 
Traditionally consisting of all the bits of a sheep you weren’t going
to serve up in recognizable form (the “offal”) made into a sausage and
cooked in the
sheep’s stomach.  Well, you asked.    And before
you get disgusted, set
down that forkful of breakfast sausage you have in hand, and give it a
good, hard think:  its ingredients aren’t a lot different.

Anyway, I’ve enjoyed haggis from and in Scotland.  Sadly, it’s not
the sort of thing that is easily importable, anywhere, labeled as
food.  As I’ve only ever managed to get to Scotland once, it
occurred to me that the only way to get a haggis fix would be to figure
out how to make it myself…  though I drew the line at having to
cook it in a sheep’s stomach.

Pictured above is Haggis the Second.  Haggis the First was
pleasant, but really more of a  lamb hash — made with ground lamb
and rolled oats, it tasted far more of, well, lamb than my recollection
of something slightly chewy, spicy, and oaty.  I decided I needed
to tackle the oat problem, as well as introduce some of the more
“intense” bits of meat (offal).

First up, the oats.  And, here’s a visual aid:


Clockwise, from the top

  • old fashioned rolled oats,
    made from oats that have been parcooked and pressed through rollers
  • Irish, or steel-cut oatmeal,
    oats that have been literally sliced into pieces
  • Scottish oatmeal,
    stone-ground oats
  • Quick-cooking rolled oats,
    same as old fashioned, but flaked into smaller pieces

Naturally, I decided I’d better go Scottish for this application. 
Unfortunately, I didn’t have any in the cupboard.  Wasn’t really
sure where to find them around here, either.  So, I took the
simple route, and ordered online from the
MegaOnlineEmporium.   I was only mildly put off by the fact
that I had to purchase 4 20oz packages (5lbs).  Then there was an
unfortunate collision betweent their choice of CutRateShipper and some
bad weather in our area, which lead to me exercising my Angry Customer
Rights when the 2-day delivery still hadn’t shown after 5 days, and
another box was sent (free of charge, overnight, free of charge, with
ReputableShipper).  Never mind that there was more weather — the
second box was on my doorstep the next day.  And a few days later
(making it a week late), the first box.  “Sorry, no returns on
grocery items”.  I had 10lbs of Scottish oatmeal (in convenient
store display boxes):

a lot of oatmeal

For reference, that is enough for Haggis the 2nd through 16th.

Moving on.  To get that nutty flavour, I toasted the 2 cups of

toasted oats

And then the trick was to get the proper meat texture.  Apart from
the 1lb of ground lamb pictured above (beside the toasted oats), I
boiled 1/2 lb beef liver and 1/2 lb beef heart, with onions.  That
essentially cooked the meats, and made a broth.

Offal about to be chopped —

parboiled offal

Mixed all together with ground lamb, toasted oats, spices, and ready to
go (cheesecloth, not sheep stomach):

raw haggis

A couple of hours of steaming (using that fine broth) — voila!

cooked haggis

My (completely non-authoritative) opinion:  the texture really
worked, and I need to work on the spices.

Of course,  I’m going to have to get some proper haggis soon to do
some taste comparison!