Chief Haggis

Chief Haggis

by Robert Veitch

It may not appeal to all, but Burns Night celebrations would not be complete without a Haggis – now the question just remains, how do you address yours?

On the 25th January it’s traditional to dust off the kilt and salute all things Scottish. In our house this means hunting down a Haggis to celebrate Burns Night.

Haggis is made from oatmeal, sheep’s offal (heart, liver, kidney and lungs), onion, salt and pepper. It’s a list of ingredients to make most children recoil with alarming speed.

Cooking Haggis is straightforward; simply simmer for just under an hour. Unfortunately an hour seems an excruciating eternity, always feeling much longer. Eventually most of the water boils away, the kitchen windows are covered in condensation but the Haggis is ready.

In our house, we don’t bother with ‘The Selkirk Grace’, piping in the Haggis, or the ‘Address to a Haggis’. It’s not that we’re disrespectful, it’s just that having waited so long for the thing to cook we are starving hungry.

Now, every Haggis I’ve ever seen has appeared dimensionally transcendental when it comes to cutting it open. No sooner has the knife made an incision than Haggis seems to overflow from the casing, filling the plate with alarming speed, like expanding off al foam. There’s so much of the stuff you wonder how they crammed it all in to begin with.

It is wonderful to eat. I like a Haggis smothered in sauce, be it brown or red; that’s the best. I leave neeps and tatties to the purists. Sometimes we toast it with whisky, more often we just put more whisky in the Tipsy Laird that follows.

In place of traditional Scottish country dancing, my good lady prefers to watch re-runs of Strictly on the iPlayer, which is fine with me – all those glittery outfits certainly put a smile on my face…