A FEW weeks ago, I was showing two-Michelin-starred chef Hélène Darroze – who was voted best female chef in the world recently – how to cook haggis. We prepared it together in the traditional way and then sat down to enjoy our meal after it was piped in by a piper and toasted with Burns’ iconic Address To A Haggis.
Darroze was in absolute awe of the whole experience, and it made me realise how lucky we are to be able to enjoy these traditions.
The perception many people have of haggis is of a plate so full and heavy that you feel like you need a two-hour nap after you’ve enjoyed the dish. But haggis can be a wonderful summer supper – it just requires a little bit of creativity, using fresh, seasonal flavour matches.
Haggis is easy to prepare. The key is visiting your local butcher to get your hands on the very best quality produce. After that, it’s relatively simple to add to a whole host of different dishes. Matching haggis with a light summer salad can be delicious, and it goes equally well with the lovely earthy taste of wild mushrooms which are just about to come into season. The key is in the combination of flavours.
Many of you may have tried haggis bon-bons as a canapé but these lovely haggis croquettes serve as a tasty weekday meal.
The cannelloni is a bit more challenging, but it’s such a flavoursome dish and looks just wonderful on the plate. We’ve had it on the lunch menu at our restaurant, The Kitchin, and it’s proved to be one of our most popular choices.
I urge you not to wait until next Burns Night to give these tasty haggis dishes a try.
To make the lamb stock
Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas
Mark 6. Put the lamb bones in a roasting tray with half the oil. Roast for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
Add the rest of the oil to a heavy-bottomed pan and sweat the carrots, onion, fennel, thyme and garlic on top of the stove for a good 8-10 minutes. Add the red pepper and the cumin and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add the tomato purée and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
Pour the white wine into the pan and add the roasted lamb bones. Cover with about 2 litres of water, bring to the boil and skim. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then pass through a fine sieve. Pour the stock back into the pan and boil until reduced by half.
For the haggis cannelloni
Roll out the pasta, taking it to number 2 through the machine. Cut it into 3in x 2in rectangles. Blanch the pasta in boiling salted water for 40 seconds, then refresh in iced water. Rub the pasta sheets carefully with oil. If you want, here you can cut holes into the pasta so you get the different colours coming through in the presentation.
Place each rectangle of pasta on to oiled cling film. Place the blanched spinach leaf on top. Then put 100g of haggis on top of each and roll it in cling film carefully. Steam for 4-5 minutes – meanwhile, blanch your vegetables.
Place the blanched vegetables on the bottom of your serving bowl. Remove the haggis cannelloni from the steamer, then carefully cut each end of the cling film and remove the cannelloni. Place the cannelloni on the bed of vegetables, and pour the stock over the top. The hot stock will ensure the dish is warm enough to serve.