Haggis Neeps and Tatties with Whiskey Sauce

     I experienced my first Haggis, Neeps (yellow turnips), and Tatties (mashed potatoes) in Scotland on the first day at The Greyfriars Bobby's Bar in Edinburgh.  It was wonderful.  And the frosting on the cake was the whiskey sauce.  It completely dispelled all the nasty rumors that I had heard over the years.  It reminded me of a kind of peppery hash.  They used a pin head oatmeal that is toasted before adding to the mixture which had a rice-like texture.  The dish was described as mutton, oatmeal, and mixed spices.  Further research divulged that many butchers make their own special recipes.  Haggis is typically made from the offal of sheep.  That is not awful, it is offal.  The most widely used description of haggis I heard is the lamb's minced lungs, kidneys, heart, and sometimes liver mixed with oatmeal, spices, and suet or fat, and then cooked in a sheep's stomach.  A local lady told me that MacSween's was the best.  Many pubs and restaurants used this brand.  People either love it or hate this national dish.  One gentleman in a restaurant heard me talking to a young waiter, and he said some people think it is too spicy.  That is why not everyone is fond of it.  I did not think it was too spicy at all.  It had a pleasant warmth that was not overpowering.  Combined with the neeps and tatties, it made a wonderful comfort food.  Pubs usually included a whiskey sauce to go with your haggis which peeked my interest, because it was fabulous.  I asked a lady who was doing a whisky tasting at the Edinburgh Castle if she made whisky sauce.  She said yes, and basically it is a gravy with adding in whiskey at the end.  Some recipes call for mustard.   Some recipes start with whiskey, setting it aflame to burn off the alcohol, and adding the rest of the ingredients.  I don't like this method, - I am afraid of burning myself or my house down in the process. I like the -add a wee bit at the end method and let it bubble.  One thing about Scotland was that their whiskey is an art form.  One restaurant offered 450 different kinds and was happy to pair them up with the food you ordered.

Another thing about Scotland is that virtually every place you go has a story behind it.  The Greyfriars Bobby has its name taken after a dog named Bobby, who was owned by policeman, John Grey.  He used to eat lunch there, and when he died they buried him in the Greyfriars Kirkyard (also steeped in history, Kirk means Church) behind the bar.  Bobby used to keep watch by sleeping on his grave every night for 14 years.  When he passed, he was buried with his master.

To my delight, I found MacSween haggis at Romanes and Paterson.  Too bad I could not bring it home.


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