Often referred to as the national dish of Scotland, traditional haggis consists of lamb, beef, oatmeal, onion and a special blend of seasoning and spices which are all cooked together in a natural casing. Haggis was immortalised by the Scottish poet Robert Burns who praised it as 'the great chieftain o' the pudding race'. The haggis is the culinary centrepiece of Burns night which is celebrated on 25th January and is the anniversary of the poet's birthday.
The haggis is traditionally carried in by the chef, preceded by a kilted piper. The haggis is then stabbed with a skean dhu (traditional Highland dagger) or sharp knife while someone recites the poet's 'Address to a Haggis'. Waitrose sell a variety of different sizes of haggis made by Macsween of Edinburgh, a Scottish family business which specialises in the production of traditional haggis.
The Macsween family recipe, handed down from generation to generation, is still used today. Macsween also make a vegetarian haggis which is available from Waitrose. It is made from a mixture of kidney beans, lentils, vegetables and nuts which are combined with the traditional haggis ingredients: oatmeal, onions and the same spicy seasoning base. It is suitable for vegans and has a subtle flavour with a nutty texture.
How to cook haggis
Uses: Haggis is traditionally eaten hot with bashed neeps (buttered, mashed swede), mashed tatties (potatoes) and a dram or two of whisky. It's also good with leeks or slightly tart dishes such as sautéed apples and carrots.
To store: Store meat and vegetarian haggis in the fridge and consume by the use by date.
To prepare: Haggis is sold cooked and just needs to be reheated.
To cook: Haggis requires gentle reheating until piping hot right through. There are three ways to reheat, but check the pack instructions first as cooking times may vary according to size. Pan method: remove the outer plastic bag, wrap in foil and gently poach for 45 minutes, do not allow the water to boil. Oven method: remove the outer plastic bag, wrap in foil and place in a casserole dish with a little water, place in a preheated oven at 180C, gas 4 for 1 hour. Microwave method: remove the outer bag and skin, cut into pieces, cover and heat on medium for approximately 8 minutes, halfway through the cooking time mash with a fork.