My first mistake was informing Mark it is Robbie Burns Night. My second mistake was reminding him, as I do every year, what Robbie Burns Night is. My third and final, fatal, mistake was admitting that yes, I’m making vegan haggis.
Although I’ve been vegetarian for five times longer than Mark, and although I swear it does not resemble nor taste a thing like real haggis (which I assume is true although I have no idea what real haggis looks or tastes like), Mark absolutely refuses to so much as try a bite of anything I refer to as “haggis”. What I should have done is told him it was “meatloaf” (though we just had meatloaf on Friday, which was poor meal planning on my part), or anything but haggis. I made it once before, the first Burns Night after we were married. It seemed appropriate: we were married in Scotland, so the country holds a special place in my heart. Mark, however, ate nary a bite. So for subsequent Burns Nights, I’ve not bothered with the trouble of making a haggis no one is going to be eating but me. This year, however, I am the proud author of a food blog, so I felt somewhat obligated to celebrate. Even if haggis is really, really disgusting.
The first time I made vegan haggis, I used this recipe or something very like it (sans mushrooms, of course). I tried telling Mark – truthfully – that it tasted like stuffing, which he loves, but he wasn’t having it. This year I did my typical glance-at-a-few-different-recipes-then-make-something-up routine. This is what I did:
2 Tbsp barley
2 Tbsp green lentils
1/4 cup steel cut oats (I used Irish oats, sue me)
1/2 cup vegan “beef” broth
1 Tbsp Marmite
1/2 large onion, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
1 parsnip, minced
3/4 package vegan “ground round”
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Note: I used commercial “ground round” because I had a package that was set to expire. Next time I might try bulgur or something more natural.
In a small pot, cook the barley in 1/2 cup water for half an hour.
In another small pot, cook the lentils in 1/2 cup water for half an hour.
Toast the oatmeal briefly in a frying pan over medium heat.
Mix the broth and Marmite together, then add the oatmeal. Cover and set aside.
(I added the seasonings in this step, but I’ll instruct you to do it later because I realized it dumb to do it at this step.)
Mince the onion, celery, and parsnip. I used a chopper.
Heat a small amount of oil in a medium frying pan. Add the minced veggies and saute until soft.
Add the “ground round” and seasonings; saute for 3 minutes.
When the lentils are done …
… drain them …
and add to the “ground round” mixture. When the barley is done …
… drain it …
… and also add to the “ground round” mixture.
Drain the oatmeal, reserving the broth.
Add it also to the “ground round” mixture.
Dump the mixture into the center of a large piece of muslin or heavy cheesecloth.
Mold it into a lump with your hands.
Wrap it up as tightly as you can, securing with kitchen string.
Place the reserved broth and enough water to make 4 cups of liquid into a medium pot, then add the haggis.
Bring to a boil, cover, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour or longer. Remove from broth and allow to cool until you can touch it. Squeeze out as much liquid as you can without smashing the haggis. Unwrap.
(I boiled it because it seemed like what you do with haggis, however, I think next time I might bake it like a meatloaf.)
Serve with gravy.
Apparently you pretty much have to serve haggis with “neeps and tatties”, or mashed turnips and potatoes. I assume most of you know how to make mashed potatoes so I’ll skip that. I took a hint from Bryanna and roasted the neeps first. They got very small in the oven; six turnips barely made two servings.
Mashed Roasted “Neeps”
6 – 8 turnips
Trim, peel, and chop the turnips into evenly sized pieces. Place on a baking sheet. Pour a small amount of olive oil into your palms, then rub the turnips with it.
Roast at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until done. They will have shrunk!
This year I tried something new and also made cock-a-leekie soup, the traditional Burns Night starter course. How could I resist making something with that name?! I’m not sure if barley is normal in this soup, but I saw it called for in this recipe and thought it sounded like a good idea.
1/2 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
3 leeks, chopped (white and light green parts only)
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
4-6 cups vegan “chicken” stock
1/3 cup barley
1 cup Soy Curls
2 large or 4 small potatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp thyme
Chop the leeks.
Chop the parnsip.
Chop the celery.
Heat some oil in a soup pot, then add the onions. Saute for 3 minutes.
Add the leeks. Saute for 5 minutes.
Add the celery, parsnips, and garlic. Saute another 3 minutes.
Add the broth.
Add the potatoes, Soy Curls, and barley.
Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until barley is cooked.
And here is the entire meal. I had leftover gravy from Friday’s meatloaf; you can make your favorite recipe.
I drank wine with mine instead of Scotch, firstly because I don’t generally drink hard liquor, especially on work nights, and secondly because all I have is Irish whiskey (from a Bloomsday celebration, which honestly I take a little more seriously). I might get away with using Irish oats, but surely I’d be in trouble for drinking Irish whiskey on Robbie Burns Night! I also failed to pipe the haggis to the serving table, mostly because I don’t have bagpipes nor know how to play them. To make up for that, though, here is a picture of Ian, the piper from our wedding. Yes, that’s Pig.
Here’s one reason I don’t play the bagpipes:
Nor did I recite any of Robbie’s poetry, for which I have absolutely no excuse other than my Scottish accent is awful.
I’d have made Mark wear the kilt he wore to our wedding, but it’s at his mother’s house (she made it for him!) and every time she tries to get him to take it home with us, he “forgets” it. Sigh. So maybe I failed being very Scottish today. But don’t get me wrong: I love Scotland.