Scottish Cuisine — Haggis, Part Two

Previously, on The World Cup of Food, we introduced Scottish cuisine and made Scotch eggs.  Then we put together the stuffing for a haggis from ingredients we found available locally.  Here is the conclusion of our recipe for haggis à la Caldwell:

Phase Two: Sewing Together the Pig’s Stomachs

We bought our pig’s stomachs frozen from Michaels Meats in Lacey, Washington.  After thawing in the refrigerator overnight, the first step was to wash each stomach carefully in a large bowl of cold water:

stomachwashing

After we were satisfied with the cleanliness of each stomach they were placed on a board for trimming:

stomachlaidout

Careful not to rupture the stomach linings, we used a boning knife to trim away as much fat as possible:

stomachtrimmingfat

After a few passes with the knife the fat was trimmed flush with the muscle layer lining the stomachs:

stomachtrimmed

The trimming was continued throughout each stomach wherever needed.

Next, the stomachs were laid over one another (inside layers against each other), and the larger one was trimmed where needed to more or less match the other:

stomachtrimming

We were ready to begin stitching the stomachs together to form some kind of super-stomach.  Gathering our jute kitchen twine and a large darning needle:

jutetwine

we attempted to start our stitch.  A problem was discovered, however, when the rough texture of the twine would not slide through the hole created by the needle and was instead shorn into weak strands:

twinegonebad

We took to Fred Meyer to come up with a better material for the job.  We found cotton button thread, which we figured would be durable and smooth enough to pass through the stomachs:

buttonthread

Button thread in hand, the stomachs were placed flat on the counter with their insides against each other and we at last were ready to begin our stitch:

stitchingstart

Continuing around the perimeter, being careful not to tear the stomachs as we went:

stitchingbeginning

…we stitched with a looping stitch instead of the back-and-forth kind.  We continued, following the shape of the stomach, until only a few inches remained, then turned the stomachs inside-out for stuffing:

stomachinsideout

The fatty muscle layer of the outside can be seen inside the pouch created between the two stomachs.  This will baste the haggis as it cooks and prevent it from being too dry.

Next we were ready for the glamorous task of hand-stuffing the stomachs, being careful not to cross up the two threaded ends that were left in the stitches.  Like a hippo for white marbles, the super-stomach was hungry for stuffing:

packingthestomach

We stopped with a little bit of room to spare to allow for the stomach linings to contract when cooked and for the oats in the stuffing to expand as they swelled with water:

stomachpacked

It was probably about three-quarters full at this point by our estimate.  Next the stitching was completed.  The two stomachs didn’t line up exactly, of course, so we were left with a Y-shape at the end:

sewnhaggis

(any resemblance to the Predator alien is accidental)

The assembled haggis was then ready to cook, which was done the next afternoon.  First, an appropriate cooking vessel was gathered together.  We needed something that was wide and deep and could keep the haggis elevated off the bottom while it simmered.  A large roasting pan worked nicely:

potempty

The haggis was placed in the pot:

haggisinpot

It was covered with cold water and brought to a simmer over medium heat:

haggisatsimmer

The pot was covered and the heat turned down to just above low.  After one hour of simmering the haggis had shifted some and bits of stuffing could be seen floating around.  Turning the haggis over, our fears were confirmed — the haggis had ruptured:

haggisrupture

The haggis looked to have been overfilled slightly.  One fewer cup of stuffing probably would have been just right.

Not wanting the entire project to be a waste, some cooking liquid was removed and reserved in order not to flood the inside of the haggis, and any objects that could be used to prop the rupture levelly above the waterline were scrounged together.  Luckily we own about three million ramekins, which worked nicely:

haggisproppedup

Additional ramekins were packed into the gaps to shore up the ones used to prop the haggis, and the cooking liquid level was restored to just below the rupture:

thereifixedit

Crisis averted, the haggis was left to simmer for a total of six hours, looking like this when it was finished:

haggis6hours

The haggis was carefully removed to a plate with two sets of tongs:

haggisonplate

We were anxious to try it!  The stuffing is all that is typically eaten, which we served just like in a Burns Dinner — alongside neeps and tatties, which are mashed rutabagas and mashed potatoes respectively:

haggisneepsandtatties

For all its off-putting (to some) ingredients, our haggis had a nice meaty, only very slightly livery flavor.  If anything it was bland and we both opted to add salt to ours after tasting it.  Neither of us would hesitate to order haggis, especially given the scarcity of opportunity.  We might not make it ever again, but we are both thankful for the opportunity to experience a haggis from start to finish.

Also from our Scottish meal: Scotch eggs.

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