Anyone interested in exotic eating has at some point wondered what is haggis made of.
As one of the most notorious foods around, people often mythologise haggis' ingredients to the point where it sounds more like a pet cemetery than a meal. Ask anyone who hasn't eaten it and they'll probably tell you that it contains every unwanted animal part under the sun.
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So, given all the superstition, it's high time we settle what is haggis actually made of. Here's everything you need to know about Scotland's most famous dish.
What is haggis made of?
A traditional haggis is a melange of many unusual ingredients that, on paper at least, do admittedly sound slightly intimidating.
The central component is called sheep's pluck. This meaty mixture contains various off-cuts and offal, including heart, liver and lungs.
This is combined with a blend of suet, oats, onions and spices to create a thick, coarse mixture. The concoction is then carefully placed inside a cleaned sheep's stomach, before being boiled.
What does haggis taste like?
Despite the unusual ingredients list, a proper haggis is one of the most delicious things to have ever come out of Scotland.
The sheep's pluck provides an incredible meaty flavour, while the oats make the whole thing texturally similar to stuffing. However, while the unconventional meat might make the headlines, the real key is the spicing.
When properly prepared, added extras like pepper, mace and nutmeg provide subtle warmth that makes the dish perfect for January dining. The addition of onions helps the end result taste more like a rich, tangy sausage than something scary.
What do you serve haggis with?
There are plenty of delicious options to serve alongside this spectacular centrepiece.
Typically, for a Burns night supper, many hosts might partner their haggis with a mixture of neeps and tatties. Referring to mashed swede or turnip and potatoes, both perfectly compliment the heartily spiced main event.
However, while neeps and tatties might be traditional, they're by no means the only option.
In East London, for instance, curious customers can tuck into a delicious haggis toastie from Deeney's, featuring cheddar cheese and rocket. Alternatively, you might be lucky enough to find an option for deep-fried haggis during your next visit to a Scottish chippy.
Whatever your preference, haggis is a surprisingly flexible dish.
Can you eat haggis when pregnant?
As anyone who's been through pregnancy knows, there is an impossibly long list of do's and don'ts to keep track of. Unfortunately, haggis should probably be part of that list.
Like pâté or liver, haggis contains high levels of vitamin A. In pregnant women, large quantities of this vitamin can do harm to an unborn baby.
While the occasional forkful is unlikely to spell disaster, worried women may feel more comfortable just ignoring haggis altogether.
Is haggis gluten-free?
Despite its wholesome ingredients list, traditional haggis is sadly not gluten-free.
The reason for this is the large quantity of oats that form an essential part of the cooking process. However, even though oats may alienate some diners, there are alternatives available.
For instance, popular haggis maker MacSween recently released their own gluten-free haggis. Available to buy in Waitrose, it's even got the seal of approval from Coeliac UK.
Is haggis good for you?
Despite being potential dangerous for pregnant women and anyone with a gluten intolerance, haggis is actually, for the most part, pretty good for you. The main reason for this comes from the offal.
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The delicious blend of hearts, livers and lungs provides generous quantities of A and B vitamins. The dish is also full of minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium and zinc.
It might look like the polar opposite of a salad, but there are still plenty of benefits to chowing down on haggis.