A type of pudding made of sheep lungs, liver and heart (a sheep’s “pluck”), haggis is flavored with minced onion, spices (thyme, paprika, cayenne, cumin, rosemary), salt, oatmeal and meat stock. The mixture is cooked in an oven while encased in the sheep’s stomach. However, the stomach is not eaten.
History of Haggis
Some historians speculate that haggis was invented as a convenient food source available after a successful hunt by ancient people in Western Europe. Although the term “hagese” has been traced back to 14th century England, haggis is considered a Scottish dish due to renown Scottish poet Robert Burns writing a poem about haggis (Address to a Haggis) in 1878.
Scottish folklore offers a story about the origin of haggis. When farmers herded their cattle into the city to market, their wives would pack whatever food was available at the time in one or two sheep’s stomach. This made meals easy to cook and transport.
What’s Unique About Haggis?
Today, you can buy Haggis in supermarkets throughout Scotland. Cheaper brands of haggis are not packed in real sheep stomachs but in artificial wrappers. You can also purchase commercial haggis made with pig offal instead of sheep offal.
Fast-food restaurants in Scotland may serve chips and haggis that has been coated in batter and deep-fried. Fried haggis on a bun is called a haggis burger.
Genuine Scottish haggis is not available in the United States because the U.S. FDA will not approve certain parts of sheep for consumption.
How to Make Haggis
Follow this link for instructions on preparing haggis: Food Network
Instead of using old-fashioned oats, you can use steel-cut or pinhead oats and get the same texture so many people like about traditional haggis.
A substitute for sheep’s stomach is the beef bung. Resembling a sausage, beef bung casings bind together better than traditional haggis.
Haggis is traditionally served with potatoes (“tatties”) and rutabagas (“neeps”) in more rural Scottish bed and breakfasts and restaurants. There is also such a thing as vegetarian haggis, which uses soy-based meat and flavorings to imitate the taste and texture of real haggis.