We just returned from a wonderful 3 day trip to Edinburgh. Despite living fairly close for several years, Bell and I had yet to venture up to the land of great whisky, castles, rugged golf and the elusive loch ness monster. We had an action packed long weekend that saw us climb picturesque Arthur’s Seat, visit amazing Edinburgh Castle, the lavish Palace of Holyrood (the Queen of England’s residence when she visits Edinburgh) and we went underground to see how people lived up to the late 1800’s. Edinburgh was also a haggis and whisky feast for us. In honor of all the great recipes we’ve received for our international recipe competition, this post is dedicated to Scotland’s national dish...Haggis!
What Haggis is Made From
Haggis is a sausage that consists of a sheep’s heart, liver and lungs mixed with onion, oatmeal, suet and spices. It was traditionally cooked inside a sheep’s stomach casing. But these days much of the haggis served is encased in a traditional sausage lining. If you think this doesn’t sound so appetizing, ask yourself this…Do you like hot dogs, bratwurst or kielbasa? Do you know what’s in them? Most people don’t and they prefer it that way. These days I travel with a mantra of would Anthony Bourdain eat this? It’s good to keep an open mind because otherwise you miss out on some tasty food, and in my opinion haggis is one of them.
How Haggis is Typically Served in Scottish Pubs
Haggis typically comes with sides of neeps and tatties. Neeps are turnips and tatties are mashed potatoes. I couldn’t enjoy my haggis like this because I’m lactose intolerant and neeps and tatties have butter in them. Another common Scottish pub dish that I could not try is Balmoral chicken. This is chicken breast, wrapped in bacon, stuffed with haggis and covered in a creamy whisky sauce. I really wanted to try this and am very disappointed that my stomach sucks.
As one friendly Scottish server told us “I think haggis goes well with anything.” Maybe not with your breakfast cereal (unless it’s porridge and that’s very debatable) but I enjoyed Scotland’s national dish in a variety of ways- topped on a hamburger (with a side of single malt whisky), in a traditional looking sausage mixed with pork and on top of a phenomenal shredded pork sandwich from one of the most amazing fast food restaurants we’ve ever stumbled upon.
Oink – Amazing for Pork with Haggis Stuffing
Oink is fantastic for a fast and simple lunch in Edinburgh. In an age where you can go out and have a menu with 100 mediocre dishes to choose from- Oink does ONE thing awesome. They roast an entire fresh pig that rests on display in the front window and you can have your pork sandwich topped with either haggis stuffing or onion and sage stuffing and one of four kinds of sauces. They don’t even have side items outside from what comes in the sandwich. It’s simple, quality fresh fast food done awesome. The world needs less McDonald’s and more places like Oink!
Bell isn’t a picky eater, but haggis isn’t really her bag. Neither was whisky, but our trip to Edinburgh allowed her the opportunity to gain a greater appreciation for great whisky and discover some types that she enjoys. It’s very difficult to find haggis outside of Scotland which is a shame. If I could, because of my dietary restrictions, I would prepare balmoral chicken but make the whisky cream sauce using goats milk and use soy butter in the mashed potatoes.
Would you try Scotland’s national dish? And if you’ve been and have tried it, how would you prepare it at home?
More of Our Articles on Edinburgh
How Not to Climb Arthur’s Seat
Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh
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15 thoughts on “Haggis and Whisky Feast in Scotland”
If ingredients are only the ones you listed, Haggis is way leaner than any sausage or bratwurst…. must try it.
Great point that I didn’t think about! In 454 grams of traditional haggis there are around 1150 calories (not light, but that’s a pound of meat) http://caloriecount.about.com/calories-mcsween-haggis-i74464. Half the calories are from fat- so yeah that would be leaner than your average sausage, but still not diet food. You don’t need much to add taste to something leaner though!
Still slightly less calories than white bread and a lot less than pasta (sorry, as an Italian, my frames of reference are indeed pasta and pizza!)
I would consider that amount of fat as healthy, if it came from plants or fish, but unfortunately it’s not the case….. well Northern Europe’s traditional food is not very related to plants! 🙂
Interesting points of reference Tuscan!…Yup, here in Northwestern Europe we rely heavily on potatoes to round out a rich meaty dish! 🙂
ohmygod!!! haggis!! I keep telling people how awesome Haggis is. And people will lean in and say: “yeah, haggis? tell me more.” And then I say: “it’s made from sheep’s lung,” and at that precise moment everyone loses interest.
Why doesn’t anyone believe me. Haggis is delicious.
I know right! Haggis is awesome! People are too quick to judge! I think it’s better that people just try it and not know what’s in it and then make the decision after the fact. I read that the USDA banned the selling of sheep’s lung in the USA back in the 1980’s. Funny that the USDA bans things like this, delicious unpasteurized French cheeses, etc.- yet injecting animals with ridiculous growth hormones is ok. If the USDA cared about Americans eating quality food, maybe they should ban TGI Friday’s! 🙂
Love the Anthony Bourdain mantra. I’d definitely like to try haggis someday. Great photos too! Do you have any of your views from Arthur’s Head?
Thank you Angela! Yes it’s a good mantra as a traveler and I wish it was easier to get haggis…even in Ireland. We have lots of photos of Arthur’s Head that we’ll be sharing in the near future. Thanks for asking! 🙂 Slainte!
Great insight into haggis and I would try it. Love the roast pork roll yum!!!!
Thanks Gayle! Glad to read so much positive feedback about people interesting in trying haggis…And yeah, so glad we stumbled on Oink while in Edinburgh! 🙂
Thanks for your commitment, Grate post.
🙂 thanks for commenting, we loved the Hog Roast!