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With the arrival of summer and grilling weather I asked the butcher if he could provide some lamb’s heart.

Skewered as brochettes with chunks of home cured bacon and served searingly hot accompanied by harissa and robust red, the heart would have made a fine evening indulgence. All the heart available that day was cryovac’d with the remainder of the pluck, as the lamb’s internals are known. That prompted an altogether different notion.

Do not be stayed by naysayers who have never tried the real thing. Good haggis is a rich and savoury pleasure. Of course it is offal, but as transformed in the preparation those odd innards lose their possibly disconcerting form and texture. All my previous haggis experience had been of the ‘eating’ as opposed to the ‘fabricating’ variety but I’d been eyeing a recipe in Fergus Henderson’s "The Whole Beast" for a while.

With a few days notice the same butcher was able to provide fresh lamb’s pluck, and that’s what’s shown here.

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As delivered, the pluck was still interconnected by its plumbing The liver is seen on the left, with the lungs at centre; the heart lies atop them. The windpipe is still conveniently attached.

Once the pluck had been washed and trimmed of excess fat it was brought to a simmer in salted water. The instructions talked of water ‘to cover’ but having done this a couple of times I’m convinced that it’s impossible to submerge lungs other than by placing a sizeable weight on top of them. Attempts to use the denser organs as sink-weights didn’t work for me. That windpipe is led out of the boiling pot and into a collecting vessel with a view to gathering anything untoward that might froth out of the lungs as they cook, preventing contamination of the broth. Most of what can be seen in the catch pot is material skimmed from the stockpot surface. Latterly the lungs did blow some bubbly white froth, but not the unpleasant outflow I’d expected. [When doing this with pluck missing its windpipe I’ve just discarded the liquid and substituted light stock].

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While the pluck was boiling for a couple of hours the remaining ingredients were readied. Pin-head oatmeal was toasted in the oven, and some onions were gently fried in butter. Salt, black pepper and allspice were ground.

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Once the pluck had been removed from the pot it was trimmed and chopped then fed through the meat grinder. Missing from the picture of the ingredients is the beef suet, still in the freezer at this point. A splash or two of the cooking liquid from the stockpot was added while mixing all together. I aimed for a consistency which would hold together, without getting sloppy.

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At this point the mixture would traditionally be sewn into a bag made from the sheep’s stomach. Lacking a convenient bag I stuffed the haggis into sausage casings. This had the advantage of allowing for easy ‘portion control’ - haggis freezes fairly well, and five or six pounds of haggis will feed quite a lot of people, even when the people like haggis. Since the oatmeal swells significantly when the haggis is heated for serving, the sausage casings were deliberately underfilled.

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To serve, the haggis-sausage can be steamed, poached or even microwaved. Traditionally served with mashed potatoes and ‘neeps’ - mashed turnips or rutabagas, it need not be Scotch that washes it down. Ale makes a perfectly acceptable alternative. Far from elegant plating; solid peasant fare this.

"Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face...." :smile:

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mmmmm...that looks so good.  Are you in Scotland? And if so, who is your butcher?

Although born and raised in Scotland, I've spent the last decade living in British Columbia. Windsor Packers on Vancouver's Main Street would likely be too far for you to send for pluck :biggrin:

If on the other hand you have a good butcher to recommend I'd love to hear about them - my family still live in Scotland, and they've been unable to locate a supplier for hanger steak...

cheers

Derek

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Wonderful post Derek, looks absolutely delicious. We have a chip shop here that does a lovely deep fried haggis that's great for satisfying a craving.

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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All Hail The Great Chieftain of the Clan Pudding!!!!

I've never tried making it but there's a recipe for it in Lobscouse and Spotted Dog (which it's a gastronomic companion to the Aubrey-Maturin novels) that looks interesting. I thought that haggis traditionally included thistles, though. And neeps hackit wi' Balmagowry is nae sa bad!

Nac Mac Feegle!! Bring me ma kilt an' me claymore!!

This whole love/hate thing would be a lot easier if it was just hate.

Bring me your finest food, stuffed with your second finest!

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Wonderful post Derek, looks absolutely delicious.  We have a chip shop here that does a lovely deep fried haggis that's great for satisfying a craving.

Yum. Where would this chip shop be located? I'd like to try their haggis. Do they make their own, or do they get it from the butcher who sells black puddin' and square sausage?

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Really fascinating! Thanks for the post.

2 firsts for me:

Any thoughts on why a lamb's innards would be called "Pluck"? I've never heard this term. Maybe because the guts are plucked out of the body cavity?

I've also never seen the windpipe used as a siphon for anything icky that might be in the lungs.

Great Job,

-G

Grace Piper, host of Fearless Cooking

www.fearlesscooking.tv

My eGullet Blog: What I ate for one week Nov. 2010

Subscribe to my 5 minute video podcast through iTunes, just search for Fearless Cooking

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I've never tried making it but there's a recipe for it in Lobscouse and Spotted Dog (which it's a gastronomic companion to the Aubrey-Maturin novels) that looks interesting.

One of the authors of Lobscouse and Spotted Dog is none other than eGullet member Balmagowry who used to hang around here often and even did a foodblog two years ago. Lisa offered much wry commentary and pith around here. She is sorely missed.

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Wonderful post Derek, looks absolutely delicious.  We have a chip shop here that does a lovely deep fried haggis that's great for satisfying a craving.

Yum. Where would this chip shop be located? I'd like to try their haggis. Do they make their own, or do they get it from the butcher who sells black puddin' and square sausage?

Shop is in Toronto. I believe they have it made specially for them. I must make a trip for some this week.

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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