Haggis. Before you react too strongly, let me explain. Traditional haggis contains certain sheep innards that the US FDA does not allow in food products. For adventurous Americans who want to know what haggis tastes like (pretty good, in my opinion), there is a company in Texas that sells an ‘Americanized Haggis’ consisting of ground lamb, a little beef liver, oats, onions, and all the traditional seasonings. You can order it from Amazon. It is pre-cooked and merely needs reheating.
Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties is a traditional meal in Scotland, served on Burns Night – the birthday of the Scottish poet Robert Burns. (One of Burns’ poems is entitled Address to a Haggis.)
Tatties are just mashed potatoes. Neeps is a mixture of rutabaga and carrot. In Scotland rutabagas are called Swedes or Swedish Turnips and as a result you will see recipes that mistakenly use turnip instead of rutabaga.
If you Google ‘haggis, neeps, and tatties’ you’l normally see each ingredient as a separate pile on the plate. I consider this to be the fine dining version of the dish. It is more visually appealing and includes a wonderful but easy whiskey cream sauce.
Start By Preparing the Neeps
1 pound rutabagas
3 medium carrots
Peel the rutabagas and carrots. Cut them into hunks of approximately equal size. Place them in boiling water. Boil them until they can be easily pierced with a fork (about 30 minutes). Remove the carrots and rutabagas from the water and drain. Place them in a food processor and process until thoroughly combined but still a little lumpy. Set aside.
Prepare the Tatties
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
1/2 stick (4oz) unsalted butter
1/4 cup cream
Peel the potatoes and quarter them. Place them in boiling water (a separate pot from the one used for the neeps). Boil until they can be easily pierced with a fork. (about 20 minutes). Remove the potatoes from the water and drain. Mash them just as you would for any mashed potato dish (I run them through a potato ricer). Add the butter and cream and stir with a spoon to thoroughly combine. Salt to taste.
This is the easy part. Just open the can and dump the contents into a saucepan over low heat.
Make the Whisky Cream Sauce
Did you know that the Gaelic term for whisky – Uisge Beatha – translates litterally to ‘water of life? And of course since this is a Scottish meal we would use a single-malt scotch.
1 Shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup whisky
1/2 cup demi glace
1/2 cup cream
Cook the shallots over low heat until softened. Add the whisky and turn the heat up to medium-high. Let the whisky reduce to about a tablespoon. Add the demi glace and let it reduce by half. Add the cream. Reduce until thickened to your desired consistency.
I used a round cookie cutter as a form. Place the cookie cutter on a sheet pan, silpat mat, or similar. Spoon the haggis into the cookie cutter, pressing it in lightly with a spoon. Then carefully lift the cookie cutter straight up off the haggis. Move the cookie cutter to another spot on the sheet pan and repeat with the neeps. Then do it again with the tatties. You should end up with three ‘pucks’ of haggis, neeps, and tatties.
Spoon a little of the whiskey sauce onto the plate. Use a thin spatula to pick up the haggis puck and gently place it in the middle of the sauce. Do the same with the tatties puck, placing it gently on top of the haggis. Finally, do the same with the neeps puck placing it gently on top of the tatties. Use a small spatula to smooth the sides. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.
About the Scotland Photos
These beautiful photos of Loch Fyne were taken by (and used with permission of) Susan Arbuckle, author of the Adventures Around Scotland blog.