Hoots mon, I'm awa tae hunt the meatless haggis.
October 25, 2009 11:18 AM   Subscribe

I'm planning a haggis-centric party and will make semi-traditional haggis from this recipe. I also need to make a vegetarian version, so what would be a tasty veggie substitute for the meat (preferably using the same recipe)? The meats to replace are "chopped cooked liver and chopped cooked heart (Or stew beef, or filet mignon)" and ground lamb. I'm in California, in case that makes a difference about ingredient availability. Full recipe below, in case Geocities has closed.

Here's Lloyd Bogart's West Mosby Volunteers' Haggis. I hope Mr Bogart won't mind me copying it out, but the Geocities web is due to disappear tomorrow.

WEST MOSBY VOLUNTEERS' HAGGIS - Courtesy of Lloyd Bogart .

Haggis "is typically served on Burns Night,January 25, when Scotland celebrates the birth of its greatest poet, Robert Burns, who was born in Ayrshire on that date in 1759. During the celebration, Burns poems are read, and the haggis is addressed by a member of the party, ceremonially, in the form of verses from Burns' poem, 'Address to a Haggis.' A typical meal for Burns Night would include Cock-a-Leekie, Haggis with Tattie-an'-neeps, Roastit Beef, Tipsy Laird, and Dunlop Cheese."

Oh, and did I mention that whisky is also served?

Disclaimer: If you jam 5 dowels into a haggis it kinda resembles a bagpipe, but only if you jam 5 single malts into yourself first. There, that makes this article "bagpipe related".

Here's a tried-and-true recipe for haggis -- entered in the international competition a few years back. It sounds more complex than it is -- it's really no more than equal amounts of meat mixture, oats, onions, and stock, with appropriate spices. Good Eating!

The following recipe is for a traditional sized (3-lb?) haggis. We prepare up to 12 times this amount, in double recipe batches, for our Annual Regimental Mess and Robert Burns Supper. It freezes well, and can be "revived" in a microwave.

1. Advanced preparation.

Find a source of ONLY Steel cut oats OR (if available) Scottish pin oats. Rolled oats will NOT provide the traditional texture, which is something like that of rice. Steel cut oats can be had, or can be ordered, from food stores specializing in organic foods, etc. You'll need 2 Cups of Oats, but if you have to order them, get extra "for next time".

Once you've found proper oats, you're ready to proceed. You'll need:

1 Cup of chopped cooked liver
1 Cup of chopped cooked heart (Or stew beef, or filet mignon)
2-3 Cups stock
Use Lamb if available, otherwise beef will work fine.

Cover the raw meat with salted COLD water, bring to a boil (gently, and covered) for about 1 hour. Drain, (keep the stock) Cool the meat, and remove any gristle, membranes, large vessels, then chop or grind the meat (coarse, as for hash). Refrigerate the stock, and discard any fat later, after it chills.

Mix the ground up heart and liver in equal proportions. You'll need about 2 cups of this meat mixture for each haggis, but it can be prepared in larger quantities, then refrigerated or frozen for later use. For final assembly, the haggis can be completed when convenient.

2. Additional Ingredients:

1 Lb. ground lamb (for "authentic" flavor -- replaces "other stuff")
2 Cups medium to coarse-chopped onions
1 Cup vegetable oil (replaces suet)
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Oz. single malt whisky (Balvenie is quite acceptable)
2 tsp. salt or beef bouillon powder
2 Tbsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. grated nutmeg

Optional: (but recommended for a "special occasion" haggis)
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground mace
2 Tbsp. Parsley Flakes
1/4 Cup currants

Casing: Reynold's Oven Cooking Bag. These are Nylon roasting bags that are available in most any grocery store. The traditional sheep's stomach or a large sausage casing may be used for a "show" haggis, but they are "old-tech". Boiling in oven cooking bags is far more convenient, if you're preparing large quantities, especially, and this process "reassures" your dinner guests.

3. Preparation

Put 2 cups of the thawed meat mixture in the oven cooking bag. Add 2 cups of (coarse) chopped onions, 2 cups of oats, and the other dry ingredients and mix well. Set the mixture aside until it is at room temperature.

In a covered saucepan or skillet, warm 2 Cups or so of the stock (Be sure any fat has been removed. -- If more liquid is needed, here or later, use bouillon or beef stock.)

Break up the ground lamb into the warmed stock; bring to a slow boil (covered) for 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat, allow to cool briefly, and be sure the lamb is in small pieces.

Add the lemon juice and vegetable oil to the lamb & stock mixture. Then combine the lamb/liquid mixture with the other ingredients in the cooking bag, and mix well.

This should produce a moist, soft mixture that will still hold together when pinched. (If it's too dry, add a small amount of stock or bouillon.)

Boil the mixture IN the cooking bag:

Close off the bag using a nylon tie, but allow room below the tie for expansion during boiling. Trim off the bag 3" above the tie, and pierce the top of the bag, below the tie, but well above the mixture, to allow steam to escape.

Use a 4 Qt. (or larger) pot with a rack at the bottom. The water around the haggis should nearly cover the bag of mixture. Periodically adjust the heat to maintain a slow boil for at least 1 1/2 hours. Add HOT water to the pot if needed.

Add 2 Oz. single malt whisky to the cook. (He/She deserves it!)

The cooking bag can be placed on a shallow pan and transferred to a preheated oven

(325 degrees F) for the last half-hour. This doesn't affect the flavor, but does add a bit of color, if desired.

The proof:

This recipe has gotten rave reviews from visiting Scots. Talk about a tough room -- Whew! I hope you'll enjoy it.

The strategy for preparing rather largish amounts is just a bit different; if you need advice on this, please contact me personally. Today I purchased 10 pounds of oats, if you catch my drift....

Lloyd Bogart

(If anyone wants the email address which is included on Mr Bogart's web page, please mefi-mail me, though it could be inactive.)
posted by anadem to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I googled vegetarian haggis recipe and the first item
"The Vegetarian Society UK -A Veggie Haggis for a Burns' Night Feast!"
might be suitable.

In fact, there probably several dozen such recipes. I can't say which of them are good, so that might not be helpful. :p
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:25 AM on October 25, 2009

My husband just had vegetarian haggis in Edinburgh, and they used oats and grains to make it. Upon looking at the recipe sebastienbailard mentions above, he says that it seems about right.
posted by bedhead at 12:46 PM on October 25, 2009

I'm afraid I'm a bit confused by one element, but that may be because I have never actually EATEN haggis.

You say that you are looking to replace the ground meat with grains to make a vegetarian version of haggis. But -- as I understand it, the stuffing is cooked inside a sheep's stomach, and you haven't mentioned whether you'd be replacing it as well. So -- assuming that you're still cooking things in the sheep's stomach, would it still COUNT as vegetarian?

Or, when one eats haggis does one....remove the sheep's stomach casing? Maybe that's the part I'm missing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:49 PM on October 25, 2009

So -- assuming that you're still cooking things in the sheep's stomach, would it still COUNT as vegetarian?

One would have to assume that something else was being used, lest it not be vegetarian.

I'd go with some combination of the veggie "meats": seitan, tempeh, and tofu.
posted by The Michael The at 1:01 PM on October 25, 2009

I've had the vegetarian society recipe haggis, and I can vouch for it. I guess you can stick to the original recipe and use any vegetables you've got lying around instead of meat.

As for the "packaging", I'm not sure. A non-toxic plastic bag or cling-film would probably suffice, most shop-bought Haggises (pl?) come in a plastic wrapping anyway.
posted by hnnrs at 1:03 PM on October 25, 2009

Ah, remind me to read the whole post before replying:
"Casing: Reynold's Oven Cooking Bag. These are Nylon roasting bags that are available in most any grocery store."
posted by hnnrs at 1:05 PM on October 25, 2009

I had a vegetarian haggis at this restaurant and it was rather decent. The online menu says it is "made with lentils, kidney beans, mushrooms and spices", if it is of any help.

Full disclosure: I am not a vegetarian but love to try vegetarian dishes, so that is how I ended inthat restaurant when visiting Edinburgh. And, most importantly, I only had real haggis three times in my life - the vegetarian version was the best of them.
posted by natalinha at 1:10 PM on October 25, 2009

I substitute a lot of meat without resorting to soy, and I say +100 on mushrooms. Finely chopped, they have the same spongy chewy texture as ground meat, and have the correct unami flavor which will help flavor the grains and such.

I like crimini; cheap, easy to find, and meaty.
posted by Juliet Banana at 3:18 PM on October 25, 2009

Thanks for the ideas. I'm trying to avoid a second recipe by substituting for the meat, because of other dietary needs that I'll have to fold in (we're a family of many varied allergies.) So the pointers to alternatives are appreciated.

And thanks natalinha for the link to Hendersons, my daily haunt in the '70s -- good to see they're still going!
posted by anadem at 6:16 PM on October 25, 2009

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