Haggis and a wee dram – the perfect Burns Night treat from top chef Garry Watson

Haggis is Scotland’s national dish and the crowning glory of a traditional Burns Supper, and although it’s an object of culinary fascination around the world, it certainly is not a beauty queen. However, what it lacks in appearance it certainly makes up in taste.

Thursday, 20th January 2022, 4:16pm
Haggis and a wee dram – the perfect Burns Night treat from top chef Garry Watson

A combination of offal with oatmeal, onions, salt, and spices, haggis is traditionally cooked in a sheep’s stomach (a historic way of preserving meat). As strange as haggis may sound, the end result is simply fantastic. In the style of a pudding its meaty, oaty, fiery, moist and predominantly oatmeal gives haggis its soft, crumbly texture - similar to rustic stuffing with a peppery kick that works brilliantly served with classic sides of crushed ‘neeps’ and mashed ‘tatties’

For some people, Burns Night may be one of the few occasions they tuck into haggis, however, this versatile ingredient can be enjoyed throughout the year. Try it in Stovies, or, as a starter do a twist on a Scotch Egg with haggis wrapped around the egg. And if you’re brave enough, you could have a go at making a haggis souffle! It’s also great as a comforting winter soup. Prepare a classic cream of potato soup and when you get to the blending stage, finish off by liquidising it with some haggis along with a splash of whisky.

People often wonder how to cook haggis but it’s pretty simple. Haggis is already cooked and only needs thoroughly reheated. Wrap it tightly in tin foil and place in a large saucepan of cold water. Simmer gently (around 60 minutes for 500g) but don’t boil as the skin may burst. A quicker way is to cook it in the microwave. Remove the skin, slice, and place in a microwave safe bowl. Add a little water, cover with cling film, pierce with a knife, and heat on full power for three minutes. Both methods work well, and the haggis should always be served piping hot and kept moist while cooking.

If you are out to impress, then try one of my favourite dishes:

Haggis and Whisky Shot Bon Bons (Ideal served as a starter or as canapes).

1 good quality haggis (400-500g), 2 eggs, beaten with a little milk (egg wash), 50g plain flour,100g Panko Japanese breadcrumbs.

Remove the haggis from its skin and divide into small pieces approximately 20g each, then roll into balls.

Lay out three bowls - one with flour, one with egg wash and one with breadcrumbs.

Coat the haggis balls in flour, dip into the egg, then finally roll in the breadcrumbs. Store in the fridge before cooking.

For the Whisky Shot Sauce:

600ml of reduced chicken stock (or use chicken stock cube),300ml double cream,25ml whisky,10g finely chopped chives, salt and pepper

Place whisky in a pan and carefully allow to flame (optional), add the reduced chicken stock and cream then reduce to required consistency. Adjust the seasoning and add a little extra whisky followed by the chopped chives. Deep-fry the bon bons in vegetable oil for three minutes, then drain in kitchen paper before serving. Serve with the delicious whisky sauce. I’ll raise a glass to that!

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