Whenever you see crossed chives you are in trouble
We should all be eating less meat and better meat
Cookery Quote
Never eat anything bigger than your head

Happy Burns night!

The first Burns supper was held in 1796 when a group of the Ayrshire Bard’s chums held a dinner in his memory. Since then the idea of celebrating Rabbie Burns (incidentally he never called himself Rabbie, preferring Robert or Robbie) has meant that on the 25th of January Scots all over the globe gather to declaim poetry, raise a glass and tuck into haggis. This must make life pretty tough for the cash flow of haggis makers, some estimates are that 80% of haggis is eaten in a single month of the year. Chances are that when you settle down to this year’s Burns Night supper you will be enjoying a MacSween haggis…
MacSween is an old established family firm that manages to combine a modern approach with traditional values. This was the firm that shocked the haggis world by inventing the vegetarian haggis and it looks as if MacSween kitchen has just come up with another revolutionary development – the gourmet haggis. Traditional haggis has genuine charm – a good texture and seasoning, a happy combination of offal and oats – what’s not to like? The new developments from MacSween are the “Venison haggis” and the “Three bird haggis”. There are more clues in the serving suggestions on the packs – “Venison haggis and fig Tatin”. Or perhaps “Scotch quail eggs with three bird haggis” appeals?
The venison haggis is made with port, juniper, redcurrants and spices it’s strongly flavoured and has a good crumbly texture. The three bird haggis is made from lamb offal and beef fat with duck, grouse and pheasant. Plus quince and spices. These new haggis are described as “limited edition” recipes which is probably code for “if you buy them we’ll keep making them”. It’s a well trodden path for chefs – taking a food staple and re-inventing it using smarter ingredients – look at the array of smart burgers; look at the growing numbers of esoteric fish and chips.
There used to be a small and eccentric French restaurant in Richmond where the chef proprietor’s pride and joy was a dish of mushrooms stuffed with haggis. A dish that had the dual advantages of not only being a felicitous combination of flavours but was also easy to make and delivered a gratifying margin. MacSween deserve the credit for realising that while a trad haggis works well with a wee dram every January it could also be a very handy convenience food or ingredient for the rest of the year. The only question that remains is whether a Three Bird Haggis could ever be called “Sonsie”!

MacSween of Edinburgh, Dryden Road, Bilston Glen, Loanhead, Edinburgh EH20 9LZ (0131 440 2555) www.macsween.co.uk

Charles Campion - Tuesday 31st December 2013

  • Chicken soup at Harry Morgan
  • Fish soup at Terroirs
  • Duck soup at Min Jiang
  • Pho at Song Que
  • Tripe soup at Istanbul Iskembecisi
  • London Particular at the Coach & Horses