Thursday, May 04, 2006

haggis


"i am haggis, hear me roar..."

haggis: "a scottish dish consisting of a mixture of the minced heart, lungs, and liver of a sheep or calf mixed with suet, onions, oatmeal, and seasonings and boiled in the stomach of the slaughtered animal."

now doesn't that sound good? good like a sharp stick in the eye. i suppose the first question that pops to mind is "why?!! why on earth would you want to veganize what sounds like one of the worst dishes in the world?" why indeed? perhaps a deep-rooted perversity stemming from a too early toilet training related trauma?

but i was intrigued. haggis. what a name! what a face! what a shape! it brings to mind that episode of cook's tour when tony goes to scotland and samples the local haggis. veggies, steel cut oats, herbs, really except for the gory garbage bits, it sounded pretty good. and believe it or not, there are lots of vegan recipes for haggis drifting around out there on the internet. i picked out a likely looking suspect from vegweb and, suffering from a.d.d. and unable to follow directions for more than three lines, i changed a few things. i added garlic, cause i like garlic. i omitted vegetarian "suet" (crisco, margarine, whatever) completely, cause i don't like greasy stuff. i threw in a bit more veggies and some burger crumbles, cause i like them too.

and here is the scary part. i really liked it. a lot.

this haggis is basically a nice whole-grain stuffing-like concoction baked in a casserole dish. the lentils cook down to a nice, creamy, earthy base that really work magic with the woodsy flavor of the mushrooms. the steel cut and rolled oats provide a creamy mouthfeel. the pearl barley perks things up with a slightly chewy and popping textural counterpoint. the burger crumbles (gimme lean sausage was my "crumble" of choice) adds a bit of authenticity. the minced vegetables flavor and color the grains beautifully. the vegemite imparts a really deep down rich and "beefy" note, and the herbs round out the flavor. finally, the lemon, which i added after the cooking (contrary to instructions), really brightened up the dish in a subtle yet crucial way. i imagine the addition of fresh minced parsely after cooking could also bring in a fresh note and some extra prettiness to this homey and homely dish.

the meat eater, after i begged, cajoled, prodded and threatened him with no cookies for a week, finally tasted a tiny bite. "it's surprisingly good", he said. then quickly backtracked once he saw the manical haggis-every-night-for-a-month gleam in my eye, "i mean, it's no treat or anything..." myself, i must disagree. this is a very hearty, tasty and satisfying dish in a rustic, rib-sticking, brutish, peasantish way. i thought it was a treat indeed.

for more information about the infamously mocked and maligned haggis, check out wikipedia. the entry is rife with interesting facts about haggis' history in addition to haggis-related sporting events such as haggis hurling. and don't forget to mark your calendars for burns night (january 25th), an evening to honor scotland's native son and poet, robert burns with a burns supper. from what i gather this is basically an excuse for a bunch of drunken, burns-reciting ne'er do wells, to gather 'round a haggis, make merry and have a "wee-bit-o-dram", as my friend's seventy-something year old scottish aunt used to whisper to us as she pulled out the well-worn flask from the pocket of her tattered housecoat, "ta keep ya' warm".

haggis
1/4 cup red lentils
1/4 cup barley
1/4 cup green or brown lentils
3/4 steelcut oats (eg irish oats or pinhead oats)
1/4 cup oatmeal (not instant)
2 teaspoons marmite or vegemite*
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon each (or more to taste): thyme, rosemary, onion powder and sage
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup fresh minced parsley
1-2 carrots, minced
2 cloves garlic
1 onion, minced
2 cups mushrooms, minced
1/4 (or more!) cup scotch whiskey
1 cup veggie burger crumbles of your choice** (i used gimme lean sausage)
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1/2 lemon, juiced

place lentils, barley and steel cut oats in a saucepan and cover with water by about 1/2 inch. simmer for about 20 minutes, covered, adding more water as necessary to prevent scorching. set aside. mince carrots, onion, mushrooms, parsely and garlic, or coarsely chop and whiz a few times in a food processor. throw the cooked grains, minced vegetables, and everything else into a large bowl and mix thorougly. place in a covered casserole dish and bake for 40-60 minutes at 350. check every 20 minutes or so to add more water if necessary.

* vegemite and marmite are both (contrary to urban legend) totally vegan. it has a very strong and salty flavor and i use it often in soups and stews where i want a beefy flavor. a little goes a long way so add it bit by bit. if you cannot find these products locally you may want to use a stronger, darker vegetable broth (i like better than bouillon) and/or some vegetarian worscestire sauce.

**you can omit or replace with equivalent amount of chopped walnuts



21 Comments:

Blogger Catherine said...

Hi Rae,

Now there's a dish I never even considered trying to adapt. That's totally wild! I will have to try this.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Jenny said...

Vegemite and marmite are also sources of b vitamins, I think so its especially good for vegans. Make sure not to eat another similar looking product, bovril, also from the uk, which is beefy.

11:47 AM  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Why do vegans want a "beefy" flavor??

5:13 PM  
Blogger Megan the Vegan said...

don't let anyone ever tell you you're not creative. Can't say I would have ever of thought of veganizing hagis!!!

5:42 PM  
Anonymous BitterSweet said...

Wow, that is so original! Probably the only vegan "haggis" I've ever heard of! This really made my day.

1:47 PM  
Blogger rae said...

catherine: let me know how it turns out if you do try it.

jenny: yeah, that's a good point. it's basically a yeast extract so has all the goodies that nutritional yeast has.

cookiecrumb: welllll, you DO ask the most interesting question, don't you...i can speak only for myself but i didn't stop eating meat 'cause i didn't like the taste. in fact the thought of the gustatory pleasure of a roast lamb can still bring tears to my rheumy old eyes. no, i don't eat meat 'cause it makes me really sad. so a product that has a good "beefy" flavor is not a bad thing, in my book. also i think a lot of vegetarians kinda forget what beef really tasted like and when they say beefy flavor what they really mean is a dark and rich flavor.

megan: ok, i'll try...
bittersweet: oh but i can't take credit for it 'cause there are lots of veggie haggis recipes out there!

5:38 PM  
Blogger KleoPatra said...

By Tony, is that Anthony Bourdain (I think that's how he spells his name). When I watched TV back in the olde days (about four years ago) my beau of that time (an awful person, but i digress) used to watch some show Anthony hosted and it turned my stomach because he seemed to always be eating the most destructive of foods...

I would never think of veganizing this kind of dish, but good for you. It actually sounds good, what you did, but i will probably try the ganmodoki first!

12:57 PM  
Anonymous sher said...

Wow!! Part of my heritage is Scottish--and that's the best looking haggis I've ever seen. I think you did a darn good job in rehabiltating it! Boy, you are very inventive.

7:14 PM  
Blogger red jane said...

I can't wait to try this, especially for my hardcore carnivore friends who give me a terrible time about being vegan. It sounds like a great winter-y casserole dish. BTW, I truly love your blog! Thanks for all the detail and research and sharing your passion. It's much appreciated.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Forbies said...

As an English maiden, I have a serious Marmite addiction.
I tried Vegemite on the suggestion of some Antipodean friends and it gave me the willies.
It reminds me of a kind of automobile grease. Deeply sinister.
Scandalous news - hot off the press - Marmite will soon disappear off the shelves in its traditional glass jars, known and loved since childhood, and re-emerge in squeezy plastic toothpaste tubes in a more liquid form. The horror.
http://4bees.blogspot.com for food reviews.

3:49 AM  
Blogger Dori said...

This haggis got my attention a few days ago when I followed a link to your blog. Today I'm back cause I'm going to gove this a try. I'm going to try this in the rice maker though... all ingredients together, all at once, and click on. I have tried this with other grain casseroles before and it works great... I'll find out if this is true with this recipe.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Dori said...

liked the name, liked the picture, liked the dish! I did make it in the rice maker, added a little extra broth and had to allow it to set on "warm" 15 minutes after it finished the cook cycle (to allow for the brown lentils to finish cooking). Wonderful dish!

9:40 PM  
Blogger Virginie said...

In Scotland, I saw jars of veg haggis but unfortunately, I've never tried it. I've got a veg recipe too, but never tried it. And I'd like to experiment it... Thank you for recording me this scottish recipe (in its veg version). Maybe I'll try it with your tempting version...

11:31 AM  
Blogger vespabelle said...

In Cooks Illustrated a few months ago, there was an article about a vegetarian restaurant in Glasgow that made vegan haggis. The recipe was quite delicious especial when served with the traditional "neeps and tatties" (mashed turnips and potatoes.)

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi everyone, just a note from an Aussie and vegemite is NOT always vegan. Check the side of the jar and see if it has a "k" next to its product number because vegemite is only vegan when it has this "K" otherwise it has been made using a meat extract rather than purely vegetarian. It is a seasonal product and its ingredients change due to the seasons. Remember, check for the "k" if you want vegan.

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