Monday, January 30, 2012

A kind-of recipe for Vegetarian Haggis

Each year, I host a Burns Supper, and that means one thing... haggis. But authentic haggis is not something that will be prepared in any kitchen of mine. First off, it is made with all sorts of ingredients that are not to be found at my local supermarket. Second, it is a difficult process filled with terms like 'render', 'suture', 'pluck' (as a noun) and 'ox bung'... all way beyond my skill level and interest. Oh, and third, I am a vegetarian, so... yeah.

But, it's possible to make an animal-free version of Scotland's national dish. I imagine it doesn't resemble the real deal at all, and it's likely offending some to even call my concoction haggis, but to quote Ricky Gervais, "offense is taken, but not given". OK, now I've really gone and upset you all with a Ricky Gervais quote... I better get on with the recipe.

What I end up with is a hearty veggie loaf, heavily spiced and made mostly of beans, oats and grains. Here's how its done-

Oh, and I don't much have measurements. Or times. Or temperatures. This is really just a theory-based recipe. My apologies, but I realize its the only way I can actually cook anything. You've just got to do what seems right. Again, sorry.

**Before you start, cook a pot of pearl barley according to the packaging and set aside.

1. In a big sauce pot, melt butter (or oil if you are vegan). Add chopped onion, celery, carrot & garlic. I think the cool people would call this "sweating" the veggies, yes?

2. Add chopped mushrooms. I used a bunch of baby bellas. yum.

3. Add dry spices. I used allspice, nutmeg, ground cloves, white pepper, black pepper, salt & sage.

4. Add water to cover all the veggies by a couple of inches.

5. Add bay leaf

6. Add a dry lentils. I used red. Any will probably do.

7. While this is simmering, toast a cup or two of steel cut oats in the oven, and a cup or two of nuts as well. I used pecans. Hazelnuts work, as do walnuts.

8. Pulse toasted nuts in food processor until coarse.

9. Add can or two of kidney beans. Aduki beans will work too. If you want to use dry beans, cook them up separate before you get going and add them in at this point.

10. Add barley, oats & coarse nuts to the pot and stir.

11. Season more if you think you need to. After a few minutes, take off heat. The lentils should be soft.

12. Mix in fresh chopped herbs. I used rosemary and thyme.

13. Mix in an egg or two as a binding ingredient (you can skip this part if you are egg-free)

14. Put into a casserole dish (I greased mine with a little butter first, not sure if its necessary)- be sure to take out the bay leaves!

15. Bake until done. I think my oven was around 325-350 and it took about an hour or so. I just tested it with a knife. When the knife sounded like it was cutting through something solid and "loaf-like" I took it out to cool.

16. Enjoy! We had ours with Scotch. Oh, and mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes and roasted turnips (which were tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper and molasses and roasted in the oven at high heat for about 20 minutes)

**This might be my first post to not have a photo attached! While haggis is a tasty, stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal, it is not too photogenic. In fact, at times in this process, you may be thinking that your creation looks a bit like dog food... at least I thought that. When it's all baked and finished, it is a nice, humble loaf- textured by grains and oats and colored with bits of carrot and beans- but we ate it so quickly that I didn't have a chance to take a proper photo

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