Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
…wait, WHAT? Let’s talk about vegan haggis, which it turns out is crazy delicious. I promise to only use a few more only-vaguely-English words that you won’t understand. It’s Scottish, ok.
Let me just take off my nutritionist pants for a minute (ooh, risque start to a post), and admit that this meal was crafted entirely out of the desire for an expensive bottle of single malt Scotch. What better excuse to splurge on my favourite ancestral booze than Burns Day. Apparently no Burns supper is complete without a haggis (vegans be warned: organ meat stuffed inside a sheep’s stomach contained within link) as it’s main star, and while I’m pretty sure I’ve never tried the “real” thing (not even in Scotland, not even under the influence of Scottish relatives), this is actually my second shot at veganising this wretched dish of organ meats and porridge. I know. So
appalling appealing, how can I resist?
I don’t recall disliking the version I made (on the fly, no recipe) for new years a few years back, but my mother assures me it was “ghastly.” She does have an aversion to “mushy foods” in general, however.
Already with lentils and mushrooms in mind (along with the standard oats), I did a bit of research and came up with this recipe from the vegetarian Henderson’s restaurant in Edinburgh. A vegan haggis recipe from an almost-50-year-old vegetarian restaurant in the motherland? Sign me the #%*& up, ASAP.
A bit of translation and conversion was required (what are pinhead oats? do you have a kitchen scale? where do I find a faux-sheep’s stomach? how early is too early to open the scotch?), but it turned out there was a kitchen scale, and pinhead = steel cut oats, and a sheep’s stomach or any type of casing isn’t actually required. Alright!
What follows is a North Americanised recipe, so you’re welcome. Haggis for everyone, no excuses! Stop muttering about ounces and grams, get out your measuring cups and just do it!
I’m not even exaggerating a little bit when I say this is delicious. Even if you don’t want to think of it as haggis, because let’s face it, who really wants to think about haggis ever at all – think of it as a really delicious vegan meatloafy thing, or some sort of roast. I would happily substitute this for my own holiday “butroast” (it’s a…roast…made from beans and nuts…it’s a butroast), and probably will in future. Vegan haggis, not just for celebrating the lives of crazy Scottish poets anymore! (Hey Henderson’s, you can use that as a tag line if you’d like ;)) My mother would like to go on the record as saying even she loved this, and it wasn’t “mushy” or “ghastly” in the slightest. Cracking!
Recipe time! For authenticity, serve with Clapshot (no, it’s not an old-timey disease – it’s mashed potatoes + turnips), vegan gravy, or some Champit Tatties. I mean, mashed potatoes. Mushroom gravy recipe also included – this stuff is the shit. I would eat a bowl of it, plain.
Vegan Haggis (recipe adapted from Henderson’s of Edinburgh)
- 1 1/2 onions, finely chopped
- 3 medium carrots, shredded
- 2 cups crimini mushrooms, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup cooked kidney beans, roughly chopped
- 3/4 cup steel cut (“pinhead”) oats, soaked at least 1 hr
- 1 cup brown lentils, soaked 2-3 hrs
- 2 tsp garam masala or: pinch each of freshly ground cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, nutmeg
- 1 tsp salt
- black pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp tamari
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup water (or as needed to cook/prevent sticking)
Soak oats + lentils separately, as directed. Chop onion, mushroom, garlic, kidney beans, + shred carrots.
In large saucepan over medium-high heat, saute onion until translucent + beginning to brown. Add garlic + spice, saute 1-2 minutes. Add tamari, salt, lentils, + carrots. Allow to simmer on medium-low heat until moisture comes out of carrots + lentils begin to soften. Add splashes of water as needed to prevent sticking. This part is a little bit like making a risotto. You want just enough liquid to soften the lentils, but not make the mixture liquidy. When carrot is cooked and lentils on their way to be softened, add mushrooms. Allow to cook until softened, again adding water as needed. Mix in drained oats + kidney beans. Again, a splash of water to prevent sticking is all you need here, allowing the oats to soften for no more than five minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 350F. Press haggis mixture into a loaf pan or form into desired shape in a baking pan. Brush lightly with olive oil, bake for 25-30 minutes until top is browned + slightly crisp.
I actually managed to turn mine out onto a serving tray, but you could also just scoop it from the pan.
We sat down with our haggis + a “wee dram,” after saying what was my grandfather’s favourite misanthropic Scottish toast:
Here’s tae us; wha’s like us
Damn few, and they’re a’ deid!
Mushroom + Onion Gravy
- 4 cups crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 tsp salt
- black pepper to taste
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- few splashes red wine
- 4 cups water
- 3 tbsp starch or flour
Chop onion, slice mushrooms. Heat coconut oil in pan over medium heat. Add onion, cook at a low-medium heat until they begin to brown + caramalise slightly. Add mushrooms and saute until they begin to brown, adding splashes of red wine and/or water to prevent sticking. It’s good if the bottom of the pan gets a little browned + you can deglaze it, it will add crazy delicious gravy flavour. When mushrooms are cooked, add garlic powder, salt, pepper to taste, + water. Allow to simmer 10-15 minutes, taste for seasoning. Mix starch/flour with cold water (a little but of unbleached wheat flour is your best bet here for authentic gravy-thickening, I’ve used potato + tapioca starches, but they make a gluey consistency that isn’t the best). Stir this mixture in slowly, stirring to prevent clumping. Gravy will thicken. Try not to just eat a bowl of it. Serve with, you know, stuff that needs
crack gravy on it.
I will leave you with some educational photographs of an hilarious Scottish “cookery book” from the 1960s that my mother brought out for a laugh at the holidays. We decided that most of the dishes in the “traditional” section sound like unfortunate old timey diseases. I’m not long for it, I’ve got the clapshot. I’ve contracted a bad case of cullen skink. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me, but it might be the crappit heid, or a bout of skirlie. Did you see that? I think she’s got some rizzered haddies, I’d stay away if I were you.
Anyone have any harrowing haggis adventures to share? Or experiences with veganising strange traditional dishes from your own culture?