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#23: Why we’re making Venison Haggis? - Mac and Wild

#23: Why we’re making Venison Haggis?

Leading on from our Big Meat debate on our last post, we’re pleased to be sharing more details on one of our latest passion projects. We’ve started making our own Venison (and little bit of lamb) Haggis. Good god now what we hear you shout? Let us elaborate…

Truly nose-to-tail, intensely nutritious, ridiculously versatile, comparably affordable and ultimately delicious, we’re pretty sure the recent movement towards more humble meat consumption gives Haggis a future outwith the Scottish Highlands and January 25th!

The comforting power of focussing on basics and our ‘good meat’ ethos…

Before we share details of #projecthaggis, we wanted to lay bare a little of where we are as a largely meat focussed business operating under the cosh of the ongoing Meat debate. We touched on it last week, but it deserves expanding.

Given recent headlines and meat consumption trends, we’ve naturally been doing a fair amount of internal reflection. We’ve chatted to customers in their hundreds, questioned our own motivations and forced out conversations of where Mac + Wild is going in 2020 and beyond and even re-looked at our values, mission and purpose. Honestly, the whole process has been exhausting, liberating but ultimately enlightening.

Concluding this self-consultation process, what feels beautifully reassuring, yet somewhat surprising, is that we intend to change absolutely nothing about what we offer. Where we plan to improve/develop is our communication of what we do. For want of a term (and desire to avoid ‘sustainable meat’ given its plethora of interpretations), we’ve decided to call it our ‘good meat’ ethos.

Committed to serving our community of ‘Good Meat’ eaters…

You may have noticed above that we refer to the recent meat movement as a move towards ‘more humble meat consumption’ rather than ‘meat avoidance altogether.’ This fundamental difference is super important to Mac + Wild – ultimately it defines the niche audience we aim to serve. Those who share our believe that you don’t have to give up meat altogether but rather eat less and eat better meat. And at Mac + Wild, we believe the Scottish meat we source is the very best of that better meat!

We 100% support the rising concern around mass meat production and consumption and understand many people may wish to avoid meat altogether for a myriad of reasons. In fact, much of the intensity of animal rearing for mass meat markets is our very reason for existence. Growing up in the Scottish Highlands, eating meat void of these practices was all we knew. It was this very childhood experience/privilege that inspired us to create the Mac + Wild brand. We believed there was enough of a community of people in London who shared this appreciation for meat with this type of extreme traceability credentials. And ultimately also loved the fact it tasted so darn good compared to mass market meats! Granted, initially it was this superior flavour and taste that grabbed many people’s attention. But as time goes on, we’re overwhelmed by the growing engagement we receive from our community regarding the traceability and sourcing of our produce.

Whether from wonderful wild environments or the most traceable farms, we know every detail of the meats we serve. We can tell you the name of the estate, hunter, butcher, farm or diver who helped deliver your meat to the table. What this growing interest and internal analysis has taught us is we could do a lot better at sharing more of these brilliant messages and efforts with our Mac + Wild community.

2020 & beyond…

We might not be perfect in some (many) people’s eyes – but we remain in a really good headspace about the integrity of Mac + Wild and the incredible produce we offer. Looking into 2020, we are super excited about some pretty huge announcements and collaborations, but we’re also working on giving voice to better communicating and living our ‘good meat’ ethos. First up, we’ve developed our very own Venison Haggis – a brilliant nose-to-tail meat option for those looking to improve their meat consumption impact in 2020 and beyond #projecthaggis.

 

The Venison Haggis Project…

So, at the end of 2019, we were at home one weekend preparing our favourite Venison Wellington (recipe available here) when the conversation of why haggis never uses Venison Offal sparked up. Venison is arguably the leanest, cleanest and most sustainable meat source readily available in the UK to those concerned with the intensity of modern farming practices common amongst many other meats. At the time, Dad, aka Les Waugh, Head of our Venison supplier – Ardgay Game, was with us. We started talking and one thing led to another.

 

2kg or 500g Venison M+W Haggis – now available to take home from both London restaurants 

The creation of our Mac + Wild Venison haggis has been made possible by our friends Charlie Munro and Rob Sessions of Munros of Dingwall Butchers. They’ve long made the finest haggis we’ve ever tasted and have really supported our idea of adding Venison to their traditional lamb recipe you see me chatting to them about in the video below. The mostly Venison recipe combines Ardgay Game Venison offal and venison shoulder with a small amount of Highland lamb offal, beef suet onion, oats, suet and cooking liquid.

With thanks to Munros of Dingwall Butchers for their Haggis expertise in bringing it all together

 

Is the tide finally changing for the humble haggis?

The rich flavour is quite sensational if we may say so ourselves, and we’re loving developing it into a plethora of recipes from haggis tacos and pies here at the restaurants, but also things like bolognese and easy packed lunch snacks at home with our 4 young kids.

Haggis Tacos

Haggis has sadly long been perceived as a polarising meat – most likely given that it contains offal and is traditionally held together in the lining of a sheep stomach! The modern consumers obsession with meat consumption has grown in direct correlation with a disassociation from the animal and the body parts we are consuming – most fervently when it features an internal organ! So we guess it is no wonder that the notion of eating the pluck of an animal (heart, liver and lungs) is too much for some. Hold that thought before closing this down. Rationalise it for just a moment and ask yourself, why is eating the breast, rump, neck or even bone marrow of a beast any more palatable? Surely the priority here is how the animal was reared, treated and eventually slaughtered and the impact its consumption has on our health and the environment?

A brilliant source of meat for the 2020 diet…

Venison haggis offers a wonderfully nutritious and affordable meat source that utilises often unused/even discarded nutrient rich cuts from animals that have been reared in the wild, in their natural habitat living on a diet of wild berries, grasses and lichen with not a cage, hormone or antibiotic in sight. We’ll leave it there.

Get your free sample…

If we’ve got you intrigued, please head down to one of the Mac + Wild restaurants throughout February and try a free sample of our Venison Haggis. Simply ask your host before your meal and we’d be delighted to hear your feedback!

Where can I buy it?

Our Venison haggis is now available to purchase in both our London restaurants.