This is another very simple post, a different take on the classic haggis, neeps and tatties. If you’re not sure, and I’m sure most of you are, that means haggis, turnip and potatoes. I know that some people are quite squeamish about haggis, but there’s no need to be. It’s spicy, meaty, warming and filling, and actually more versatile than you might think. You can have it with neeps and tatties, yes, but you can also have it on a baked potato, in samosas, wrapped in filo pastry or as a replacement for beef in bolognese. You can even make your own, if you can get hold of the appropriate offal. My first Rock Salt post was a version of haggis, made of the normal oatmeal and spices mixed with ox heart and kidney, which I oh-so-cleverly called Hoxxis. Proper haggis contains a sheep’s pluck, including lungs, and is wrapped in the sheep’s stomach and boiled, rather than baked, which is what I did. If this leaves you feeling squeamish, it shouldn’t. What do you think sausages are wrapped in? Fairy’s wings? It’s important to eat all the bits of an animal, otherwise it’s a dreadful waste. For more info about this kind of thing, visit Offally Good, where Lucy is living for a year as an offaltarian.
Anyway, I am a big fan of haggis but the last time I had it with neeps and tatties (on Burns night), I did feel like it was lacking quite a lot in the presentation department.
It tasted great though, and it certainly hit the spot. The Haggis Hunter’s Pie is a slightly more refined version of the above, and there will be room on your plate for some green veg, too.
First, the easiest way I find to prepare everything is to get a pot and a couple of bamboo steamers, or metal ones would work just as well. Put a square of greaseproof paper in the top steamer, and place your haggis in it, remembering to split the casing to avoid explosion. This is quite important. Now, cut your turnip into small chunks and place in the bottom steamer, and put your tatties in the pot, covered with boiling water. In the half hour or so it takes to boil your potatoes to almost mush, the haggis and neeps should also be cooked.
Drain and mash the spuds with a spot of milk and too much butter. You can also add a little nutmeg or Sichuan pepper, this matches the spicy haggis. If the turnip isn’t playing along, you can now put it in the pot with fresh boiling water, and place the mashed potatoes on a plate and back into one of the steamers to keep warm while it finishes cooking. When it’s ready, mash it, too. I like to leave the turnip plain, it’s good enough on its own.
Firmly press the haggis into the bottom of a high-sided baking dish. Fill a piping bag with the mashed potato and make stripes across the top, leaving space for equally sized stripes of turnip. Then fill another bag or wash and refill the first one) with the turnip, and do the same thing.
Sprinkle some chives over the top, if you’re feeling a bit fancy.
Bake at 200C for about half an hour, until the top is browned and a little crispy.
Serve with additional veg of your choice. It’ll cure what ails you.
You could vary the way you apply the neeps and tatties to the top – a pattern of piped rosettes would be pretty, or you could spread it on with a fork in a rustic kind of way. You could also add things to the haggis – I considered adding peas and carrots, as in a cottage pie, which I still think would have been nice. It would be sweet to make mini versions, too, in individual casserole dishes.
The humble haggis. It takes a lot of catching, but once you’ve got it, it’s delicious.