Today is Burns day, Scotland’s national holiday celebrating the life of the poet Robert Burns. This holiday isn’t just an excuse to get blasted. It's also a culinary tribute where revelers toast to the Scottish wordsmith over clinked glasses of Scotch whiskey while feasting on haggis—a savory pudding stuffed with oats, spices, and sheep’s rumen, lungs, heart, and liver. Robert Burns was a huge fan of haggis, so much so that he even wrote a poem about it that mentions something about stabbing the innards with a knife as they get pulled out like the steaming entrails of a beast. Mmm.
We had no idea how to make haggis from scratch, so we called up our friends at the Nordic Food Lab, a non-profit culinary research institute based in Copenhagen, Denmark, to get the full monty. Ben Reade, a native Scotsman and the head of culinary research and development at the Nordic Food Lab, walked us through the labor of lamb love in the Nordic Food Lab’s houseboat kitchen.
After oats, spices, four-day-smoked blueberries soaked in alcohol, a couple of hearts, and sheep's rumen, liver, lungs, diaphragms, kidneys, tongues, fat, and blood were mixed together and cooked, the warm pudding was ready for some culinary poetry. Ben brought it over to the Mad Symposium—an annual gathering where international chefs and culinary minds meet to eat, drink, and discuss topics in food—and shared it with the symposium's participants.
No haggis can be consumed without the help of a sharp knife and a healthy carbon dioxide-blowing bagpiper to appease the ghost of Burns himself. Or in the words of Ben Reade, “Who wants to eat French balls? This is how we want it in Scotland.”
Cheers to you, Robert Burns.
Editors Note: This video footage was shot by Sarah Warren.