Story #12: For the love of Haggis
A brief history
When people think of haggis, they often think of blood, guts and funny animal bits. Or they imagine crazy uncivilised Scotsmen savagely eating the heart of an animal with blood spraying in the air whilst roaring into the distance ‘don’t come near my land, cos I am mental!”
In fact, it is nothing like that, quite the opposite in fact. We (Scots and most other nations) eat haggis because we are survivors. True, haggis is made of offal. And for good reason. Offal is a great source of protein. Why would you chuck out perfectly good meat?
Many countries, not just the “barbaric Scots”, have their own version of haggis. It just so happens that Scotland was proudly home to one of the best known, and certainly most celebrated poets that ever lived, and he happened to be a huge haggis lover! This is why Scots and Scotland has become synonymous with this fantastic food. After Robbie Burns passing, his friends decided to host an annual dinner in his name – of course the centerpiece of the dinner was haggis.
So why are people so afraid to try Haggis?
Our nervousness around haggis and what lies beneath that toughened skin (or what the skin even is – did someone say sheeps stomach!?) stems from our changing trends in the meat cuts we eat. The rise in intensive farming has meant a drop in the more ‘civilised’ cuts of meat such as breast, fillet mignon or ribeye. The internal cuts such as offal have consequently been overlooked. Sadly these super delicious, nutricious and cost effective options are now panic initiators for many. They really shouldn’t be. It is all animal at the end of the day and if the source of the beast is traceable and of high ethical and welfare value then what’s the difference!?
So what’s really in a Haggis?
Haggis is mostly always based on the pluck (heart, liver, lungs) of the animal. The pluck is the first thing to rot on a beast. When the clan would go out hunting or the crofters (farmers) would drive their cattle from the Highlands to the market in Edinburgh they would need to eat. They would kill a beast and make a haggis – probably continuing to carry the carcass to the market to sell on.
Making haggis is a form of preserving the meat. The pluck is boiled up and chopped in to tiny pieces. This gives you a couple of weeks shelf life compared to a couple of days in its raw state. The contents would then be mixed together with spices, oatmeal and onions and stuffed inside a bag like pouch, traditionally the stomach of a sheep, before being tied at both ends ready for cooking.
Meet our Haggis Supplier – Munros of Dingwall
So now you know the background, let us introduce you to our Haggis supplier, Munros of Dingwall Butchers. The secret is closely guarded but the overall commitment is solid – fresh fresh fresh ingredients! And its settled, Haggis really does give you muscles!