Nigel Slater’s haggis recipes (2024)

Early morning in a Glasgow hotel and I seem to have won the breakfast lottery. The first meal of the day brings not only pork sausages bursting at the seams, but black pudding and a slice of haggis, too. There is much to like about haggis: the coarse, friable texture and generous seasoning; its happy partnership with mashed root vegetables; and the intelligence of a recipe that makes something from nothing. A haggis is a thing of beauty, too, especially after roasting when the bulging parcel, the girth of an ostrich’s egg, is taken from the oven, singing quietly to itself, glistening from a regular basting with butter.

The haggis shows the economical cook at their most inventive. The least attractive parts of an animal (I mean, have you ever actually seen sheep’s lungs?) made into something so delicious that its arrival at the table is celebrated with a fanfare of bagpipes. I can’t imagine anyone makes their own at home. (Mince the liver, heart and lungs of a sheep, mix with oats and seasoning then stuff it into a washed and soaked sheep’s stomach. Sew up and simmer.) Precise recipes, handed down through generations, are closely guarded, and the subject is the scene of good-natured rivalry.

The seasoning – thyme, cloves, mace and a king’s ransom of pepper – is what makes this offal fest worth eating. And, like any sausage, the ratio of non-meat additions is crucial: in this case oatmeal is what gives the filling its light and crumbly texture. You either love it or you don’t. Perhaps Scotland’s culinary jewel would get more admirers if we thought of it as a rather grand breakfast banger. As Rabbie Burns says: “Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!” The haggis is the king of sausages.

This week is the haggis’s moment of glory. Thursday is Burns Night, on which the Scottish poet’s life is celebrated, usually with the time-honoured dinner of mashed potatoes and buttered swedes and much (much) whisky. Rather than serving it whole, I have been using my haggis this week as a seasoning, first as a stuffing for a Sunday roast and, second, to scatter over sweet, snow-white scallops hot from the pan, the roasted haggis crumbled and toasted until lightly crisp and chewy, with a soft, buttery mash of root vegetables.

Guinea fowl, roast swede and haggis stuffing

A chicken will do if guinea fowl escapes you. Serves 4.

onion 1
olive oil 4 tbsp
sage leaves 3
haggis 450g
swede 400g
potatoes 400g
thyme sprigs 10
a guinea fowl (or chicken)
butter 30g

Peel and roughly chop the onion. Warm half the olive oil in a shallow pan, stir in the onion and finely chopped sage and fry until soft and golden. Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Peel the swede and the potatoes then slice each thinly, each disc no thicker than a pound coin. Put the vegetables in a roasting tin, add the remaining olive oil, the leaves from most of the thyme sprigs and a grinding of salt and pepper. Toss the swede and potatoes gently together, making sure they are coated with the oil and seasonings.

Take the haggis, split the outer casing and spoon the filling into the softened onions, then stuff into the guinea fowl, packing it loosely into the body cavity.

Place the guinea fowl on the sliced vegetables and rub the skin with butter, then season with the salt and pepper and the remaining thyme. Roast for 50 minutes or until the skin is crisp and golden and the juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a skewer at its thickest point.

Lift the bird from the roasting tin and place on a warm dish, covering it loosely with kitchen foil. Return the vegetables to the oven to lightly crisp for a few minutes before serving.

Scallops with toasted haggis and swede

Nigel Slater’s haggis recipes (1)

A rather good version of surf and turf, the haggis roasted (or boiled if you prefer) and toasted until quite crisp, then scattered over hot scallops and a purée of swede. Serves 4.

haggis 450g
swede 600g
butter 40g

For the scallops:
butter 25g
olive oil 2 tbsp
large scallops 12
parsley a large handful (chopped)

Roast the haggis according to the maker’s instructions. They will vary slightly, but most suggest about 45 minutes at 190C/gas mark 5, wrapped in foil, with a little water in the dish.

Peel the swede then cut into approximately 3cm chunks. Steam or boil for about 20 minutes until tender to the point of a knife. Ladle into a blender (or use a stick blender) together with the butter and 200ml of the cooking water and process to a soft, creamy purée. Check and correct the seasoning.

After about 45 minutes roasting, slit the haggis open and scrape out the filling on to a baking sheet, spread thinly and evenly, then return to the oven for about 20 minutes until lightly crisp.

For the scallops, warm the butter and olive oil in a shallow pan. When it bubbles, add the scallops (take care, they may splutter) and cook for a minute or two until their edges are tinged with gold. Turn the scallops and continue cooking, again for just a couple of minutes, spooning the butter over them as you go.

Place a deep, soft mound of the swede purée on to four warm plates, then nestle the scallops on top. Fork the chopped parsley through the baked haggis, then scatter over the scallops and swede, and serve.

Email Nigel at or follow him on Twitter @NigelSlater

Nigel Slater’s haggis recipes (2024)
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