Today I rinsed the stomach thoroughly, and left it in pure water.
Then I started on the filling.
150 grammes of oatmeal
is to be put in the oven until golden coloured. They should not be brown or black.
250 grammes of beef suet
is to be finely chopped. Suet is like, hard, hard fat/tallow that insulate the kidneys. It is easily available in Great Britain, although not in Sweden. I used lard, as an old recipe said it could be used instead.
should be grated or coarsely chopped.
The lungs and heart
should be minced.
should be finely chopped.
The water you cooked the pluck in
is coming to use. Pour it over the other ingredients and make the mixture watery. I used about 6 decilitres, and it turned out really good, but this will vary depending on the size of the sheep's pluck.
Last step is to add
2 tablespoons of salt, along with a teaspoon of pepper and half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper and enough lemon juice to make the mixture tasty (I should have fried some of the mixture and tasted it, to know I got the proportions right, but I didn't. Still, the result was alright).
I will present the following steps with pictures. Commentary on the pics are found below it.
When everything is mixed into a paste, it is time to put it in the stomach. First of all, take a big pot and fill it halfways with water. Put it on a boil.
Fill the stomach about half full. I made the mistake of filling it all the way (Pic 1 - yes, it looks like...). Press out all air from the stomach, but leave a LOT of room (I didn't - see pic 2) - the stomach is shrinking by at least 50%, and the oatmeal swells a lot.
I looked at pictures of haggises on the web, and they seemed to be tied shut with a string (although it is a crappy pic, look at pic 3). I did the same, and lowered my happy haggis into the boiling water, and looked on as the stomach transformed (pic 4-5). I realised that it was going to burst in a matter of seconds, so I pierced it with a needle (pic 6). It was too late however, and the string fell off. The filling started to leak out in the pot, and my spirit sunk.
My clever wife however, took the situation under control, and took the pot of the heat. She put it all in a sieve, and in a matter of minutes we could refill the stomach. It had shrunk immensely. This time, we stitched it closely shut with whip stitches (pic 7-9). Also, we had cut off a bit of the stomach ("This is way too big. Lets cut the redundant material."), and we stitched the bottom together, filled it up, and left as much space as we could. Then we stitched it shut, and sunk both haggises into the water again.
This time, we had better luck. The original haggis had already shrunk, and was OK, but the other one shrunk considerably. We pricked it with a needle a couple of times, but eventually, it burst. This time it was not the stitching, but the stomach itself - I had scraped it too vigourously. I took it out of the water (it was only a small hole in it), and put it into a plastic bag, whereafter I put it back into the water again. I didn't want it all to go to waste, so I hope you forgive me if I cheated just a tad.
The Haggis is supposed to boil slowly for three hours. I boiled mine for about 2,5 hours, as they were kinda small. The finished Haggis was very good to the texture - as you don't eat it with sauce, I like mine a bit "juicy" (yes, I know it sounds disgusting). Every chef would of course have his Haggis different, but I like mine the way it turned out. During cooking, the water in the pot will evaporate. Keep hot water nearby to top up your pot as time passes, as the Haggis must always be covered with water.
Haggis is served with "neeps and nips" - mashed turnips and a dram of whisky. We found out that a glass of stout is an excellent companion to haggis and mashed turnips. It tasted a lot better than it looked, a real treat I must say, and it was certainly not disgusting as some of you probably think. You don't eat the stomach - it just acts like a vessel for cooking the other meats.
It had a buttery taste, not dissimilar to Bolognese. Salt was needed, maybe because of most of the filling leaked out in the boling water in the early process.
I had a couple of sceptic friends over, and they left like true believers.
My lessons learnt is to:
- Fry some of the mixture to make sure it tastes alright
- Leave lots and lots of room for shrinking and swelling, but make sure no air is left within the stomach
- Stitch the stomach together meticiously - just tiing it won't do the trick
- Be careful when you scrape the stomach - it can't be holed, and not even too thin
- Don't be afraid to prick the stomach with a small needle if it looks like bursting
Follow these advice - it is way too much effort put in to let the Haggis go wrong just because you are careless like I.
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