It’s Burns Night, so I decided find out whether I really do dislike haggis or whether I’m just pathetic. Turns out, both are true.
My haggis experiment begins at the butcher, where I buy two small oatmeal and offal stuffed stomachs, with a smile. The butcher looks puzzled when I tell him ‘I’ve left it a bit late to buy my neeps, but I’m going to try the greengrocer next door.’
‘I’m sure they can help you,’ the butcher says, with his nose slightly scrunched. Sure enough, the greengrocer has turnips and swede in stock. I thought you couldn’t get proper white turnips anywhere. But here they are! Neeps!
I bought two haggis because we have a friend over who I felt sure to be a ‘haggis man’, but no, I soon find out this is a first for all three of us, and the baby.
As teatime approaches I have a mild panic when I can’t find any Nigel Slater recipes for haggis, neeps and tatties online. ‘This does not bode well,’ I think, as I continue my search.
I like the look of Tom Kitchin’s version: deep fried haggis balls topped with quails’ eggs, served with ultra-thin potato rosti and pickled turnips. But I am not that good, and I don’t have much time… So, I settle on Hairy Bikers‘. Then I realise that I don’t have ingredients for the sauce so I am pretty much following a recipe for mash. I feel like a fool.
It takes me just over an hour to cook my first ever haggis, neeps and tatties. I bake the haggi (what is the plural of haggis?) in foil, in a baking dish with a little water, for one hour at 180c. While they cook, I make mashed potato and mashed turnip with butter, and fold the two together. I don’t think this is the proper way of doing it. Keane informs me that ‘in Scotland swedes are turnips and turnips are swedes’. This is a confusing meal.
After a disastrous attempt to conjure gravy out of thin air I serve the haggis dry, with neeps, tatties and broccoli. At this point I realise that I have made way too much fuss about cooking it, and now everyone feels anxious about what they are about to eat. ‘It’s not that bad,’ says our guest. ‘It pretty much just tastes of salt and pepper.’
‘I’m not getting a meat hit from it,’ says Keane, while our daughter shoves fistfuls of haggis into her mouth from his plate. She has already eaten her dinner. I felt sure she wouldn’t eat haggis, but she loves it.
‘It’s alright I guess,’ I say, as I slather on mustard and load my fork with a little haggis and a lot of ‘backup’ pork sausage. And then realisation hits: I’m stupid about food. I didn’t think that I was.
‘I’m going to research good haggis leftover recipes,’ I say, looking at the uneaten 25%. ‘Fry it and feed it to the dog,’ says Keane. ‘Fry it?’ I ask, ‘is the haggis really so bad I should fry it before I feed it to the dog?’ Ah well. At least I’m not alone in my stupidity.
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About Chloe King
I'm a freelance writer, designer and webby type. I live with my husband and daughter in the south of England. I like to cook and can throw a good party.
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