Whether you buy a prepared haggis from your butcher or attempt to make it yourself, haggis -the official dish of Scotland, made for Robert Burns Day dinners around the world this week- is steamed, or cooked in a bain marie (water bath) – a perfect candidate for the low and slow, even heat of a slow cooker. If you do it yourself, you won’t even need a sheep’s stomach to cook it in. If your haggis comes precooked, it’s a great way to gently reheat it. If you want to add a splash of Scotch, that would make it even more authentic.
Really, haggis is like a big bagged blob of sausage, or savoury pudding, or Scottish-style meatloaf. It doesn’t need to be made entirely of innards – in fact, more and more people are leaning toward ground beef and lamb, which gives it that rich gaminess, over sheep’s liver, heart and lung. Which aren’t readily available at most supermarkets.
The addition of steel-cut oats is traditional, but you have permission to use rolled oats – why not, if we’re knocking tradition already by using a slow cooker?
If you want to try your hand at homemade haggis, here’s a recipe that doesn’t call for sheep’s lung. If you’re reheating or cooking a prepared haggis, place it in the slow cooker, pour over some stock (and a splash of Scotch if you like), cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, until heated through. Alternately, do it on the stovetop in a steamer insert set over an inch or two of water in a covered pot, until cooked or heated through.
Crock Pot Haggis
adapted from many sources, including the fab A Year of Slow Cooking
1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground lamb
1/4 cup beef or chicken liver, finely chopped (optional)
1 red or yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup oats (old-fashioned or quick)
1 large egg
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 tsp. each cinnamon and nutmeg
pinch cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup beef or chicken stock
Mix everything but the stock together, as if you were making meatloaf – I always use my hands for this. Shape it into an oval-ish loaf and set it gently in your slow cooker. Pour the stock over and around it, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, until firm and cooked through. You won’t even need to peel back the stomach lining before serving it. Serve warm, with mashed neeps n’ tatties (turnips and potatoes).
Photo credit: istockphoto.com/blackjake