Monday, November 26th, 2007
Some say that the haggis is a four-legged Highland creature, which has two short and two long legs to help it run around the hills. Now we don’t want to disappoint any American tourists by discussing whether that is true or not, but let’s just say that it wasn’t that kind of haggis we were looking at when we went to spend the morning at an organic butchers in Dalbeattie.
T.H. Carson is Dumfries and Galloway’s first certified organic butcher and, having been in the family for 70 years, is now run by Scott Carson. He started working there part time as a boy but has been there full time since 1987 and now works with John and Kenny.
Kenny, John and Scott
When we arrived, there was a big cauldron of lambs’ lungs, livers and hearts being boiled up, which is one of the main ingredients in haggis, and sadly the primary reason people avoid eating it. Lucy got to give this a bit of a stir and was enveloped in an offaly aroma, which was nice (!), and then when it was cooked it all went into the mincer. Next you add the rest of the ingredients (oatmeal, onions, lamb/beef fat and seasoning) and mix it all together.
You can either buy ‘ball haggis’ – the more traditional kind you see that is round in shape and serves many people – for which they use ox intestine to hold it all together, or they make a sausage-shaped haggis using plastic to hold it all together, which you can then buy in slices.
Making ball haggis
It is the sliced haggis which is now the most popular as it is easier to cook (just gently fry it) and makes a tasty breakfast or snack. However, it is the ball haggis that you are most likely to see at a Burns Supper, where it is tradition to stab it (as our brother learnt, you don’t want to do this too hard or else you might break the plate!).
When asked if anybody actually eats haggis anymore in Scotland, Scott said that, on average, they sell about 100lb of the stuff a week, and double that around Burns Night. He was even taking some home for supper that night as his wife was cooking haggis-stuffed chicken breast.
The finished product – don’t worry, we haven’t given away any secrets!
It might not be much to look at (or smell) when it’s being cooked, but it’s a great way to use up parts that might not be eaten and is actually extremely tasty. Scott kindly gave us some to take home and we had it with baked beans for breakfast the next day. Yum yum – thanks Scott!
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Click here to find out more about the Scottish Haggis.