Sunday, January 31, 2010

Molly MacRae Monday: Got Haggis?

It's Molly MacRae Monday, the 1st - and the funny mystery author this month delves into the mystery of why on earth people like Haggis. Of course, I always wonder why Molly likes prunes, mincemeat, and more...-Amy

Got Haggis?

You have to love a recipe that starts: “Wash lungs and stomach well, rub with salt and rinse. Remove membranes and excess fat. Soak in cold salted water for several hours. Turn stomach inside out for stuffing.”

Mmm mmm. Add onion, the heart and liver of that sheep, half a pound of suet, salt and pepper and there’s some good eating. If you’ve never tasted haggis, the national dish of Scotland (which many Scots also refuse to do), you’re missing a treat.

Haggis reminds me of corned beef hash, except it’s made with steel cut oats instead of potatoes, and sheep innards instead of corned beef, and the ingredients are stuffed in that well-rinsed stomach and then steamed like a pudding for three or four hours . . . Okay, maybe not so much like corned beef, but it has lots of pepper and you always drink whisky when you eat haggis and who can argue with that?
Robert Burns glorified the dish in his poem “Ode to a Haggis.” I think you’ll agree he explains his feelings with stunning clarity when he says,
“Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?”
Hits the nail on the head, doesn’t he?

A good haggis is hard to find in this county. Something about the USDA declaring it “unfit for human consumption.” But here’s a recipe for a reasonable facsimile using beef.

1 lb. beef liver sliced ⅜” thick
¼ lb. white beef suet
½ cup whole-grained oatmeal
3 cups beef bouillon
2 onions
Shred suet. Peel and cut onions. Hold. Boil liver 5-10 minutes; chop. Place all above and oatmeal and plenty of pepper in a big pot. Add sufficient bouillon to get ¼” deep in bottom of pan. Bring to boil over high heat. Simmer 2-2 ½ hours, covered tightly. Every 15 minutes of first hour stir and add bouillon to ¼” (to supply steam). After first hour stir and add bouillon punctually every 30 minutes till oatmeal is soft but still chewy.

I do love haggis. I’d eat it every week, given a ready source of the real thing. And whisky.

Most of the mysteries I read don’t mention haggis, more’s the pity, but I recently read two you might like – The Red Blazer Girls by Michael D. Beil, nominated for an Edgar for best juvenile mystery, and The Ghost and Mrs. McClure by Alice Kimberly, a fun twist on The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.


Rochelle R. said...

I had haggis once at a Robert Burns Dinner. It was an interesting experience especially when they piped in the haggis. However I really wouldn't care to eat it again!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Molly,

I think it takes a lot of whiskey to appreciate haggis! But I confess to not having sampled it so what do I know? I do have a humorous scene in one of my historical novels which includes the serving of haggis. The novel entitled THE WHITE CHEVALIER hasn't been sold yet. So if any haggis loving literary agents read this column, I'd be more than happy to discuss haggis with them if they will represent my novel.

All the best,

Jacqueline Seewald

Janice said...

Noooooo! Haggis is wonderful, delicious and peppery. If you like meat or sausage or stuffing for Turkey you would like haggis. Of course as I am Scottish,I would say that. My post about haggis can be seen here

Molly MacRae said...

Jacqueline, were I a literary agent, I'd represent you on the sole merit of haggis appearing in your novel. I'm so sorry I'm not an agent. That's a niche market going unfulfilled.

Such a shame,

Spiele said...

Interesting love to try it

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