Robert Burns, is Scotland’s Bard. His works, life, song, poetry and Haggis are celebrated by Scots around the world on his birthday, 25 January. The main culinary event, is the Haggis, something else for which Scotland is famous. Interestingly, Haggis may not be Scottish after all. The Romans and Vikings have been credited with a similar creation and the first time a recipe for it appeared in print was in the 1400s in Lancashire.
What is Haggis you ask? Before we realised that using animals for our pleasure and convenience is unnecessary, it was a combination of sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, mixed with oats, onion, spices and stock and baked in the sheep’s stomach. The vegan version is a delicious, savoury and satisfying mixture off all the flavours that make haggis, haggis! I make haggis a few times a year, not only on Burns Night.
Haggis takes some time to prepare, not so much because the method is complex, but because there are lots of ingredients and lots of fiddly things to do.
Pair Haggis with my recipe for Cock-a-leekie Soup as a starter to your Burns Night supper and Clapshot with Whisky Sauce as a side (and once you make clapshot, you’ll never go back to plain old mashed potatoes) and add some oatcakes, whether home made or store bought. And for dessert, try one of my all time favourites, which is also very easy to make, Sticky Toffee Pudding.
You can make Haggis a day or two in advance. This gives the spices time to mature, but this is not necessary to achieve full deliciousness.
Recipe serves 4, with some leftovers.
- 4-5 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 30g coconut oil or other light vegetable oil
- 75g white mushrooms, roughly chopped
- generous pinch of cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon asafoetida
- 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg (or a few scrapes of the freshly ground stuff)
- 3 carrots, grated
- 75g red lentils
- 1 lemon, juiced and zested
- 500ml vegetable stock, keep it hot/boiling
- 30g rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
- 30g bunch thyme, leaves stripped
- ½ tin of red kidney beans
- 50g pinhead oatmeal
Here is the spice mixture. Isn’t it lovely?
In a large saucepan and over a medium-low heat, sweat (see this helpful Wiki entry to understand what we mean by sweating and make sure you cover the pot) the shallots, onions, garlic and asafoetida in the oil until very soft. This will take some time – 20 minutes or more because you’re cooking over a low heat.
Turn up the flame to medium and add the mushrooms. Sauté until they’ve released their water and started to brown.
Add the spices and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes, then add the carrots, lentils and lemon zest. Then pour some of the boiling stock into the saucepan until the ingredients are just submerged. Reserve the rest. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the lentils are soft for approximately 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, mash the beans roughly with a fork. After the mixture has been simmering for the 15-20 minutes, add the mashed beans to the saucepan. Mix well and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes. After that, add the pinhead oats. Add a little more stock if necessary, but keep in mind that we are adding the oatmeal to absorb the last of the liquid so that you are left with something relatively firm. Lower the heat and stir until the oatmeal has plumped.
Add the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning and feel free to be generous with the salt. Haggis is a savoury and salty dish.
Here is the Haggis in serving bowl. I like to present it at the table in the bowl. Spoon it out and serve with Clapshot.
If you feel angry or sad when you hear stories of animal abuse, then you are already vegan and just don’t know it. The animals we love are no different from the animals we eat. If you are not vegan, please go vegan. It is easier than ever and The International Vegan Association will help you get started.