I normally don’t do Burns Night, seeing as we’re English and all but I’ve recently been well into haggis and all its faggoty, brawny cousins (that’s probably the only time I’ll say the last bit of that sentence). The idea of using bits that normally end up in the bin is very appealing from both a chef’s viewpoint and also from someone very much aware of the vast array of costs involved in running a catering business.
We got in half a dozen hares the other day – in fur and with guts intact. I’m somewhat of an wannabe amateur taxidermist (in that I’d like to do it just haven’t got past the stage of having a bunch of semi cured skins & hides stored all over). Taking out the innards is something that gleefully involves all the senses (i.e. it’s very bloody smelly) and as I pulled out the pluck (the heart, lungs and liver, a gory bundle that comes out in one ‘pluck’) I got to thinking that perhaps I should use it up. So I did. And the results are below. I don’t make stock from hare bones as the resulting liquid (and aroma) is very pungent and makes for a similarly strong tasting sauce/stew that doesn’t appeal to many not currently incarcerated for weird fetishes. And I was thinking that maybe the innards would result in something not particularly tasty. But, as is often the case, I was wrong!
Here’re the main bits – liver (the dark red stuff), heart (the heart shaped bit) and the lungs (slightly lighter in colour). Trim any sinewy bits, pipes and gristle off, I scrape the membrane from the liver with a knife. Once trimmed this came to 825g.
Next up – bung it in a pan with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
The lungs are the bits floating on top stir it a few times during the cook and they’ll be fine.
Meanwhile melt a big knob of butter and sweat off some diced onion (260g or one big onion).
Get the other ingredients ready – oatmeal or oats (320g), spices – white & black pepper (2 tbs each),
ground ginger 1 tsp), cardamom (1 tsp), ground mace (1 tsp), ground coriander (2 tbs), suet (150g).
Add some rabbit loin (320g), fine diced by hand – or you can use minced lamb (or beef).
Blitz up the cooked bits, strain the liquor off and add some to the mix (700ml). Mix the whole lot together.
If you can get hold of a beef bung (or lamb’s stomach) to encase it then great. But you don’t generally eat that bit so for ease I use foil. Lay out a sheet of foil, lay a sheet of cling film over this and spoon the mixture onto it on the edge closest to you. Roll it up carefully and evenly, tucking the edge over the haggis and pulling it towards you – you wanna try and get it as tight as possible. Once it’s wrapped up twist the ends like a cracker, it should feel nice & tight. Then, bung it in a simmering pan of water, about 15 minutes should do it. If you use traditional casings then it can burst if you’ve packed it too tightly – this way the ends slowly twist open as it expands.
At this point the thing’ll be cooked! Open it up, fry it off a bit in butter if you like it with crispy bits – or just spread it onto some lush bread and eat. Bloody awesome with some mango chutney. The pepper gives it a lovely bite with gentle heat afterwards, the meat itself isn’t gamey or offensive at all. Feed it to your loved one/s and watch the delight on their faces. Just don’t tell them it’s Hare Haggis until afterwards.