by David Garcelon for The Fairmont Royal York, a ‘Certified Good Food Fighter

Haggis is the most traditional of all Scottish dishes, eaten on Burns Night (January 25th, the birthday of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, 1759-1796) and at Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve).

It is really just a large round sausage; the skin being a sheep’s paunch.

The finest haggis of all is made with deer liver, served to the skirl of the pipes, cut open with a traditional sgian dubh (black stocking knife) and accompanied by small glasses of neat Scottish whisky.

This recipe, which we use at The Fairmont Royal York, dates from 1856.

1 large sausage casing

5 cups dry coarse or steel cut oatmeal

1 lb. (0.5 kg) chopped suet

1 lb. (0.5 kg) lamb or venison liver, braised then minced

2 cups beef or lamb stock

Lamb meat, liver, and kidney, boiled and minced

1 large chopped onion

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

Toast oatmeal slowly until crisp. Mix all ingredients (except sausage casing ) together. Add stock.

Fill casings  to just over half full, press out air, and tie up securely. Have ready a large pot of simmering water. Prick the haggis all over with a large pin so it doesn’t burst. Simmer slowly for 3-4 hours.

Serve with neeps and tatties , a traditional Scottish dish that combines mashed potatoes and swede turnips with chives, butter or drippings, salt and pepper.