I’ve been blogging about the show Outlander and its stars for over two years. In the process, I have learned more about Scotland and Scottish culture. Wednesday, January 25th is the birthday of Scottish poet Robert Burns. Burns Night is a celebration of the poet and lyricist. A traditional supper includes haggis, tatties, neeps, and a dram of Scotch whisky. (Tatties=mashed potatoes, neep=turnip) For this Florida girl, haggis is a foreign concept.
I’m part of the committee that published the cookbook Cooklander To The Stove. This wonderful book is a collection of 550 recipes submitted by fans and friends of the show Outlander. Originally, a recipe for haggis wasn’t included among the hundreds of recipes submitted. I am now dubbed “Haggis Hunter” by fellow committee members because all of the haggis recipes, with the exception of the Vegetarian Haggis, are the product of my extensive search. I must admit to becoming strangely curious about haggis the more I looked into how I would find a recipe. Below is the story of my search for the elusive haggis, found on page 323 of the cookbook.
Hunting for Haggis
A wee bit elusive
The Cookbook Committee received recipes from all over the world, however two weeks prior to the target date to go to print, we still hadn’t received a recipe for haggis.
Haggis is not an animal. It is actually made from the innards of a sheep, oatmeal, suet, herbs and spices cooked in a sheep’s stomach. I messaged a friend from Glasgow and a friend of a friend living in Tampa from Edinburgh. One reply stated, “In Scotland, people usually buy the haggis ready to go as it is made from all the leftover parts that aren’t used after the slaughter.” Hmmm…where would a Florida girl buy haggis? I Googled, and was amazed at what I found. I read a very interesting article published in “The Guardian” on January 22, 2015 by Adam Gabbatt entitled “The hunt for black market haggis”, http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/22/-sp-the-hunt-for-black-market-haggis-us-burns-night. My mind reeled at the implications of a ban on importing the sheep’s lung, a crucial ingredient in a traditional haggis, in the United States. Haggis can be purchased on www.amazon.com in the US, however, substitutions have been made for the sheep lung. Americans can also buy haggis in a can at local Scottish festivals. I couldn’t believe my own eyes when I saw the cans at the Lannadoo Celtic Festival in NE FL.
In my quest, I posted on Twitter and Facebook. I called, texted, and emailed every chef or restaurant owner I know. I may have even tagged a certain actor from Scotland in tweets enlisting his help. I knew I was getting desperate when I asked a friend who owns a restaurant that specializes in Baha Mexicana for a recipe for haggis. I might have even promised to make haggis, taste it, and to organize a skirling salute complete with pipe band if I received a recipe.
A fan sent me two recipes for haggis which appear in this cookbook. One recipe came from “A Little Scottish Cookbook”, by Paul Harris. Harris’ book is listed in Diana Gabaldon’s bibliography in “Outlandish Companion.” The recipe’s directions include, “Boil the heart, liver, and lung till tender, hanging windpipe out over the edge of pan so that it drains into a bowl.” One recipe from the book, “Cooking with Elizabeth Craig”, states, “After cooking, haggis can be hung in a cool dry place until required. When wanted, boil up again.” Perhaps my declaration to prepare haggis was premature. I’ll be honest, I can count on one hand the people for whom I would be willing to make and taste haggis.
When followed on Twitter by Haggis Society, I knew I had officially made it to the big time of haggis circles! I followed back, however, I’m fairly certain this is a parody account. As I said, haggis isn’t an animal, and there really isn’t an official hunting season.
I hope you enjoy all the recipes in this cookbook, especially the haggis. When in doubt, more whisky is always the answer.
In November 2015, I tried haggis for the first time at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. I can honestly say I enjoyed this Americanized version. It tasted like liver and oats. Glenfiddich whisky was also available at the pavillion, I would highly recommend.
In January 2016, to celebrate Burns Night, I decided to be brave and attempt to make haggis. I figured the Vegetarian Haggis recipe would be the best way to go for my first attempt. I used the recipe on page 167 of the Cooklander To The Stove cookbook. I made dinner for friends and they said, “It was quite tasty, even without the stuff.”
Fast forward to Janauary 2017. I am proud to be a part of actor Sam Heughan’s My Peak Challenge for the third year in a row. Participants were given a mini challenge to host a Burns Night Supper to raise money for Bloodwise. Bloodwise funds research and offers information and support to anyone affected by leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma, and other blood related disorders.
Video via Youtube.com
I’m happy to report that the stars aligned and I am hosting a Burns Night Supper with my friend and fellow Salt Life Peaker Carol Swearingin. Please join us at Culhane’s Irish Pub on Wednesday, January 25th to have fun and raise money for a great cause! The chef at Culhane’s is creating a haggis special, and their menu features a variety of whiskys.
Culhane’s has generously donated a basket valued at $100 as a raffle prize. Culhane’s also submitted their Dingle Fish Pie recipe, a favorite of Guy Fieri, to the Cooklander cookbook.
Copies of Cooklander will be available for sale during the evening with all proceeds of sales benefitting Bloodwise. The cost per book is $25.
If you are unable to attend the supper, and would like to donate, please visit my Just Giving page at http://www.justgiving.com/jennymcinspired.
Burns Night Supper
Where: Culhane’s Irish Pub
When: Wednesday, January 25, 2017 6:30-9:30 p.m.
For more information about topics covered in my blog, visit the following web sites.
Bloodwise – http://www.bloodwise.org.uk
Cooklander To The Stove – http://www.cooklander.com
Culhane’s Irish Pub – http://www.culhanesirishpub.com
My Peak Challenge – http://www.mpc2017.com
For the Burns Night celebration in 2018, should I try the US Version of Traditional Scottish Haggis recipe in Cooklander that calls for “One leg of a pair of CLEAN panty hose, knotted with top end cut off and open”? Thank you so much for reading!
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