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Tuesday Taste Test: Kosher Haggis!

Why is that Americans come over all queasy when discussing the glory that is haggis? After all, despite the most famous living Scotsman, Groundskeeper Willie, exhorting America’s youth to sample its delights ("Get yer haggis, right here! Chopped heart and lungs boiled in a wee sheep's stomach! Tastes as good as it sounds. Good for what ails ya!") it seems that popular prejudice against th
e “great Chieftain o’the puddin-race” is alive and well Stateside. Did I say prejudice? Call it discrimination: Scottish haggis is, outrageously, banned from the US on account of those delicious wee bits of lung and some nonsense about mad cows. So no haggis lasagne or haggis nachos for you guys, unfortunately, unless you make it yourself.

Of course, there’s another problem with haggis: It’s not terribly kosher. Leviticus 11 specifically names the haggis as – okay, that’s not quite true. Actually, even if you do keep strict kosher, most of the ingredients in the traditional haggis recipe are not inherently trayf – after all, I’m told it’s very similar to kishka – and if you journey to Scotland it’s not that difficult to find kosher haggis. Unsurprisingly, though, there’s not a big market in the US for properly kashered sheep’s stomach, let alone the regular variety, so you'd be forgiven for thinking that you may never sample the delights of this majestic dish.

But as we approach January 25th, the annual night dedicated to Scotland’s national poet Rabbie Burns (who penned a famous ode to the national dish), I figure: Why should Rabbi Burns miss out? Here, then, is a recipe for kosher haggis – or haggisim, if you will. Go on, try it!

Ingredients: 1 clootie (means a little cloth). A clean linen dish towel will do. 2 lb. dry oatmeal 1 lb. chopped mutton fat, rendered, or suet, which is the cleanest fat on the animal's body. 1 to 1 1/2 lb. lamb or venison liver, boiled and minced Small quantity stock (lamb by preference) 1 large chopped onion 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper 1/2 tsp. allspice 1/2 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp. pepper 2 tbsps soy sauce or suitable substitute Instructions: Toast oatmeal slowly until golden brown. Mix all ingredients (except clootie) together; add stock until soft. Fill clootie to just over half full, press out air, sew up securely with needle and thread. Have ready a large pot of boiling water. Boil slowly for 4 to 5 hours, ensuring haggis remains covered with water. Serve with “bashed neeps” (swede) and “tatties” (potato). And, of course, a good Scotch Whiskey. [Recipe from the Capital Scot]

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