Traditionally served on Burns’ Night (January 25), haggis is not, as my brothers told me, a small animal with the legs on one side shorter than those on the other so it could only run in circles. Instead it is a Scottish delicacy made with oatmeal and a trio of sheep’s offal (hearts, lungs and liver) encased in a sheep’s stomach. This simplified version is inspired by a recipe in Leith’s Cookery Bible by Prue Leith and Caroline Waldegrave. Allspice and black pepper give the distinctive spice notes. Serve with eg. mashed turnips and potatoes (or as the Scots say, neeps and tatties).
300g lambs’ livers
2 tsp olive oil
400g lamb or mutton mince
2 ½ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp fine salt
Rinse the quinoa to remove the bitter outer coating, then drain in a sieve. Place in a pan with the water. Place a lid on and simmer for 20 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed.
While the quinoa cooks, peel and slice the onion. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion and livers. Fry gently for about 10 minutes until the onion has softened and the livers are cooked. Mince the livers and onion in a food processor – you’ll only need to do this for about 5 seconds at the most – you want small pieces of liver about the size of currants, rather than a mass of crumbs.
Tip out into a large bowl and add the mince, spices, salt and cooked quinoa. Stir together with a metal spoon until well combined. Press into a 1.5litre (3pt) pudding basin and use the back of a spoon to smooth the top. Now fold a pleat into a piece of foil and use it to cover the top of the pudding basin. Secure with cook’s string or an elastic band.
Place a heatproof saucer upside down at the bottom of a large stockpot. Place the pudding basin on the upturned saucer. Pour water in until it comes about one-third up the side of the pudding basin. Place a lid on the pan. Bring the water to the boil, then turn the heat down and allow the water to simmer for two hours until cooked through. Serve the haggis hot.