on Friday, 24 January 2014.


Scotland and its fine capital have much to celebrate.  Admired for its stunning mountains, lochs and glens, its culture is synonymous with the kilt, whisky, ‘purple bloomin’ heather, the ever illusive Loch Ness Monster, and of course ‘The Haggis’!


It is a small, hairy, three-legged animal indigenous to the Scottish Highlands.



Regarded as Scotland’s national dish it is derived from a number of dishes which have “an ancient history and a wide distribution”.   It is thought that the Romans, partial to foods from the sausage family, were the first to make a Haggis type product with pig offal.  Its roots are based on preservation where offal, highly perishable, needed to be eaten fresh or have its life extended.   This was done by salting and packing it into an animal stomach.  This economical pudding was boiled until cooked and could last for a couple of weeks.  (The Oxford Companion To Food, Alan Donaldson)

Scotland’s Haggis is a classic recipe which we have nurtured and refined to make our own since the late 18th century.  Around this time, Susan MacIver who ran a cookery school in the Old Town of Edinburgh for upper class young ladies, had her recipe for Haggis published.  Prior to this, many recipes for haggis and similar puddings were found in England!


There are a number of extremely good Haggis makers in the country but to my mind an authentic, Haggis of excellent eating quality is the award winning Macsween Haggis.

Having opened a small butcher shop in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh in 1953, the now 3rd generation family business, created a unique recipe.  Natural, locally sourced ingredients, a mix of lamb, beef, oatmeal, onions and a blend of herbs and spices are cooked in a natural casing. The result is a savoury product with a sweet lamb flavour, hint of onion and a distinct presence of oats which is essential in obtaining that perfect crumbly texture.  A successful vegetarian version was developed in 1984, a mix of kidney beans, lentils, nuts, vegetables and oatmeal.


25th January, Burn’s Night, marks the birth of Scotland’s finest poet.  The ‘Great Chieftain O The Pudding Race’ is acknowledged with passion, ceremony and humour, using the bard’s famous address.  It is devoured with mashed neeps, bashed tatties and a dram or two of whisky.  Robert Burns gave this Caledonian delicacy, ‘cultural significance’.   Written not long after he came to Edinburgh in 1787, it appeared in the Caledonian Mercury, the very first of Burn’s poems to be published in a periodical.


Embrace it at any time of the day throughout the year!  Delightful in a warm salad with pancetta and apple or crumble it through macaroni.   Browse Jo Macsween’s  ‘Haggis Bible’ and you will find inspiring recipes such as Haggis Benedict, Haggis Tacos and Haggis canapés. 


With good reason, Haggis is here to stay!



(Check out the cookbook on my website for the traditional Scottish dessert, Cranachan which is often eaten as part of Burn's Supper)