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What is Haggis?

Blog • November 11th 2022

Haggis is commonly described as a savoury pudding. A traditional haggis is made from:

  • Meat known in Scotland as 'sheep's pluck.' Sheep's pluck refers to a sheep's heart, liver and lungs.
  • Onions
  • Oatmeal
  • Suet
  • Salt
  • Spices

These ingredients are minced, mixed together and combined with stock. The mixture is then stuffed into a sheep's stomach before being boiled to cook and lock in the flavours. Modern haggis is often made with sausage casing in place of the sheep stomach. Although haggis ingredients may sound off-putting, the finished dish is exquisite. Filling, warming with a peppery kick and flavoursome spices, haggis is a meal that will leave you satisfied.

THE HISTORY OF HAGGIS

The historic origins of haggis aren't completely clear. There are rivalling theories and the matter of Scottish pride at stake in exploring how haggis came to be! The first written mention of a haggis type food dates back to 423BC and the ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes who described one exploding. Haggis also has connections to the Vikings and is similar to the Swedish word hagga. This link supports the theory that the first haggis may have been brought to Scotland aboard a Viking longboat. In Scotland, haggis was historically taken on the road by cattle drovers as a convenient and warming meal as they travelled across the country. It was also a popular dish for the poor as it was made with the cheap but nourishing cuts of meat. Scotland's beloved poet Robert Burns is partly credited with making haggis the famed dish it is today. His poem 'Address to a Haggis' celebrates the wonderful food in all its glory. To this day, haggis is still eaten in his honour as part of Burns Night Supper.

HOW TO COOK HAGGIS

There are two main ways to cook haggis. Either by poaching it or by baking it.

To bake a haggis:

  1. Get a Farmison & Co haggis delivered directly to your door.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas mark 6.
  3. Remove any outside packaging but leave the haggis casing intact.
  4. Wrap the haggis tightly in tin foil
  5. Place the wrapped haggis in a casserole dish with a little water. (The water is key to stopping the haggis from drying out.)
  6. Place in the oven and bake.
  7. Using a meat thermometer, measure the core temperature of the haggis. When it reaches a minimum of 75°C your haggis is ready to serve. If you don't have a meat thermometer, cook your haggis for about an hour per 450g.

To poach or boil a haggis:

  1. Buy a haggis from Farmison & Co.
  2. Bring a large pan of water to the boil.
  3. Once boiling, reduce the pot of water to a simmer.
  4. Wrap your haggis tightly in tin foil.
  5. Add the haggis to the pot of water and simmer.
  6. Using a meat thermometer, measure the core temperature of the haggis. When it reaches a minimum of 75°C your haggis is ready to serve. If you don't have a meat thermometer, boil your haggis for about 45 minutes per 450g.

Whichever cooking method you've chosen, serve your haggis by splitting the casing with a sharp knife and scooping out the delicious filling. For more information see our traditional haggis with neeps and tatties recipe. Or, if you are in the mood for something a little different, our venison and haggis lasagna recipe is a fantastic twist on the classic.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH HAGGIS

Haggis is traditionally served with tatties and neeps. For the non-Scots amongst us, "tatties" are mashed potatoes and "neeps" are mashed swede. To make things more confusing, swedes are known by many other names depending on where you are from. They are sometimes called yellow turnips and known as rutabaga in America. These mashed side dishes make a perfect bed for the haggis. We also recommend serving your haggis with a decadent and truly Scottish whisky sauce.

You can also serve haggis alongside Lorne sausage, white pudding and a tattie scone for a superb Scottish breakfast.

WHAT IS BURNS NIGHT?

Haggis is the star of a Burns Night supper. But what is Burns Night? It is a celebration held in honour of Robert Burns who was a Scottish poet in the 18th century. Robert Burns is also affectionately known as Robbie or Rabbie Burns in Scotland. Burns night is celebrated on the anniversary of his birthday on the 25th of January.

The first Burns supper was held in 1801 when a group of Burns' close friends got together to mark the fifth anniversary of their friend's death. The tradition stuck and spread. Now all across Scotland and beyond, people celebrate Burns Night.

If you are hosting a Burns Supper this year, take a look at our article about the preparations for the tartan celebration!

EAT BETTER HAGGIS WITH FARMISON & CO

This Burns Night, treat the family to some poetry reading and our flavourful and authentic haggis. That being said, we don't think you need an excuse to tuck into this delicious dish! Our wee haggis is a fantastic addition to a great British breakfast, or fry some up for a warming supper on a particularly dark night. Like everything we do at Farmison, our haggis is made responsibly with the finest quality ingredients. We work with small, local farms and have close relationships with all of our farmers. This allows us to go above and beyond when it comes to meat traceability. Each pork sausage or beef steak that ends up on your plate can be traced back to the free range pig or grass-fed cattle which it came from. We are exceptional for our commitment to British Farming, traditional techniques and heritage breeds. You can taste the difference. Try haggis and enjoy Better Meat with Farmison & Co today.