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'Haggis should be made using deer, not sheep' claims Helensburgh butcher

A Scottish butcher is challenging Scotland's traditional haggis recipe by claiming it was invented by Vikings who settled in this country, and should be made using deer and not sheep.

Published: November 30, 2015

A butcher based in Helensburgh has challenged the national belief that haggis should be made using sheep's pluck by claiming that it should actually be made using venison.

Varying claims about the origins of haggis have been offered over the years with some even claiming the recipe dates all the way back to Ancient Greece.

However, Joe Callaghan - who works at Callaghans of Helensburgh - was persuaded by a close friend to research the subject further and claims he discovered that the recipe was an invention of Viking settlers.

And Joe, of Helensburgh, told the Daily Record: “Scotland’s national dish is an imposter. The real national dish is staggis.

“Deer is an indigenous species in Scotland. The Vikings brought haggis to Scotland. My recipe is based on the original Viking recipe, made with venison plucks, which I have tweaked a bit to make it my own recipe.

“There are lots of ways of making haggis and we have made it from wild boar but it should really be made with venison plucks, not sheep plucks.”

Though deer are indigenous to Scotland, there is evidence that sheep such as the Soay breed - named for the tiny Scottish island, near Skye, they were originally discovered on - have been native to Scotland for around 4,000 years.

Indeed, the first written reference to haggis is recorded in the cookbook Liber Cure Cocorum dating from around 1430 in Lancashire, which refers to 'hagws of a schepe' and uses sheep's offal as the core ingredient.

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However, Joe is not alone in claiming Scotland's national dish has Scandinavian origins, several noted food writers such as celebrity chef Clarissa Dickson Wright have backed the claim. Wright cited etymologist Walter William Skeat - who suggested the word haggis was derived from the Old Norse haggw, meaning to hack into pieces -  as part of her research into the subject.

What do you think? Do you agree with Joe's claims? Leave your comments below. 

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