...making haggis. Or at least, a variation of it, as sheep’s stomachs aren’t the easiest things to come by, even when you HAVE just bought a whole, butchered lamb, as we have. You might recall that we have done this before - this time round it came from Highbury Farm who we regularly buy from at the farmer’s market, meaning that the food miles involved were extremely low!
So - what made us decide that it might be fun to have a go at haggis? Well, first off, it tastes REALLY good. Secondly, we’re big fans of the idea that if you’re going to eat meat, then you should eat the best quality meat you can afford. It should have been well raised and looked after, treated with respect, and you should look to make use of as much of the creature as possible, too. We’d routinely eat liver anyway, but when you buy the full animal you also get offered the heart and kidneys too, which is great except there is a limited amount you can do with 1 lambs heart and it’s (pretty small) kidneys...so we decided to go one step further and ask for the lungs too, and experiment with haggis making.
Jumping ahead for a moment - this is what we ended up with:
The jumping ahead bit is because the first photo you use in a blog post becomes it’s “snapshot” photo, and the REAL starting point photo possibly isn’t ideal as the snapshot photo, because it’s this... (squeamish types might need to scroll on by, while those of a sturdier and more curious disposition may wish to click on the photo for a slightly larger version)
The “full pluck” as it is known - lungs at the top, kidneys in the bag to the left, heart in the middle and the liver peeking out in the bottom right. Stage one is to rinse this lot in cold water, then pop them into a large pan, cover them in water and bring to the boil.
Time to assemble all the dry ingredients - so into the bowl with the chopped offal go finely chopped onion, oatmeal, suet, the spices, salt and some chopped herbs too - savoury and sage, along with a little dried thyme as we have no fresh.
Everything gets thoroughly mixed together, and then stock from the cooking of the pluck added to give a moist but not sloppy consistency.
Now, this is where things start diverging from the traditional. If making a fully authentic haggis, this is the point at which the cleaned sheep’s stomach comes into play, with the rich, spicy mix being packed in, and the whole thing then tied tightly at make sure everything is retained. As I said at the start, we didn’t have access to the stomach, nor did we want to end up with as big a Haggis as that or any of the usually suggested alternatives would give. Instead we researched possibilities for baking it in the oven, first lining our large square cake tin with foil, then piling the mixture in, well packed down into every nook and cranny.