I’ve cooked with haggis before, but like most people, only on or around Burns Night on January 25.
However, some people have an aversion to haggis because they don’t particularly like the idea of what’s in it i.e. the ‘pluck’ of the animal (usually sheep), comprising the lungs, heart and liver, which are then mixed with onions and oatmeal before being liberally seasoned with herbs and spices.
I have no problem with this, but I appreciate that many people do, so did you know there was also a vegetarian version of haggis? To be honest, it tastes pretty much the same as the offal version, and is definitely worth giving a try if you like super savoury food.
Now Jo Macsween, of the Macsween Haggis company is on a mission to convince us that haggis is more than a once-a-year food – that we could be eating it every week: we just need to know what to do with it.To that end, she has produced The Macsween Haggis Bible, packed with around 50 recipes, including Haggis Benedict, Haggis lasagne, Haggis ravioli, Haggis nachos, Haggis bobotie and Haggis spring rolls.
I was intrigued enough to get hold of some samples to review and so was sent a pack of traditional haggis slices, vegetarian haggis and black pudding – all microwavable. However, I don’t own a microwave but was reassured to read on the pack that the products could also be grilled or fried.
I’ve tried a couple of recipes from the ‘bible’ starting with this – an adaption of a recipe which Jo calls ‘Haggis armadillo’ because of the visual effect created the bacon strips .
I used my Sous Vide water bath to cook this because it keeps the chicken incredibly juicy and tender, but you could also cook the parcels in a pan of boiling water for 25 mins, as long as you make sure the parcels are totally secure with no danger of leaking.
2 large skinless chicken breasts
1 round of haggis (either traditonal or vegetarian)
1 round of black pudding
6-8 rashers streaky bacon
1. Using a sharp knife, slice three-quarters of the way through each chicken breast, lengthways, and lay them out flat on a chopping board like an open book.
2. Cut the haggis and black pudding rounds into thick strips. Lay half the haggis and half the black pudding in a line down the centre of each open chicken breast.
3. Roll rightly, ensuring that all the haggis and pudding is totally enclosed. Wrap tightly in 3-4 rashers of streaky bacon.
4. Wrap each chicken parcel in clingfilm and tie the ends very tightly to secure and to ensure there is no leakage. Now seal the parcels in Sous Vide vacuum packs, if using.
5. Set a Sous Vide water bath to 67.5C and immerse the vac-packs in the water. Cook for 2 hours. If you’re not using a water bath, bring a large pan of water to the boil and immerse the tightly-secured parcels into the water for 25 mins.
6. Once cooked, unwrap the chicken breasts. Add a little oil to a frying pan and brown and crisp the bacon all over for approx. 5 mins.
7. Allow to rest for a couple of minutes before carving each chicken breast into thick slices.
8. Serve with pan-roasted potatoes, wilted spinach and bacon-mushroom sauce to which I added 2 tbsp whisky.