Category Archives: Holiday foods

Gala Pork Pies, I was feeling so hipster, I Put an Egg In It

Something I have seen, and screwed around a lot with lately is sticking eggs in random things. From ordering burgers topped with eggs, to sticking it in my marinara. They’re lovely. They take on sauces, mix well with oils and grease, compliment and coat. They also look pretty bitchin’ in savory pies.

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A couple weeks ago, I stuck an egg in my pork pie. I had my friend Nikki over for a delightful day of baking. I fully admit that I initially had a hard time with this pie crust. If you read my blog often, you know I’m a fan of the butter crust. I use it for everything. However, for traditional pork pies, it calls for a hot water lard pie crust. Its different kids, but it still needs to be cooled down. If you don’t cool it down, its like rolling out really thick paste. I had to make it second time after the fact to make sure I hadn’t taken a bus down knuckle head lane.

There are a few ways to skin this cat. The first time I made them with Nikki, I put them in ramekins. It would have happily made about 6 of them, if I had 6 ramekins, and wanted to double the crust recipe. The second time I made it was in a rectangular dish. It fits the meat far easier.

For the filling

1 lb ground pork

1 lb pork tenderloin minced

2 slices of bacon chopped

1 white onion chopped

4 cloves of garlic chopped

1 apple minced

1 tbs sage

1 tsp salt+

pepper

1 raw egg

4 soft boiled eggs (6 if you’re using ramkins)

Combine your meats. Add in the apple, garlic, onion, sage, salt, pepper, and mix them. Soft boil your eggs (put them in water on the stove on high, and when they start to boil set the timer for 5 minutes. When the timer goes off, plunge them into ice water for 30 minutes, and peal). Cook a tsp of the meat mixture to make sure that you like what you have, season accordingly, and set these two aside while you make your crust

For the crust ( for an 8in rectangular baking dish. Double if using ramkins)

2 1/4 cups of flour

1/2 cup lard

1/2 cup butter

1 tsp salt

2 tbs boiling water

Mix together your flour and salt. Bring your water to a boil, as well as the butter and lard. Add the boiled water, and butter and lard to the flour, and mix it with a wooden spoon until it form into a crumbly dough. Form the dough together into a flat ball, and refrigerate it for an hour. Once your hour is up, kneed your dough into 2 equal sized balls. Roll out the first dough, flip it into your dish, and put approximately 1inch of the meat mixture into the bottom of the dish, and space out the eggs so they fit evenly, and fill the dish the rest of the way, but not over filling it. Roll out he final ball of dough and cover the top, joining the edges. Bake at 375 for 1 hour. Remove from the oven, cool to room temperature, and enjoy (about 3 hours).

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Coconut Hazelnut Pecan Tart. My bastardized version of pecan pie.

I am a pecan pie naes-sayer. They are overly sweet and gooey, and if they aren’t cold they kind of ooze all over you with their sticky nutty mess. That being said, my mind was recently changed by my friend, Laura. I went over for a day of goofing off downtown and baking. I was pleasantly surprised by what popped out of the oven (she makes the best baked goods). We made pecan pie bars, with a large smattering of hazelnuts in them. Their sweet scent filled the  apartment, and they came out quite tasty. So I took that delightful bar recipe she found on allrecipes, and changed it into something that looks nothing like the original.

For the crust

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp salt

approx 1 tbs or less ice cold water

Mix together the flour, butter, salt and brown sugar in a food processor, or by hand until the ingredients are reduced to crumbles. Add in the water, mix it into the dough, and press it into a lightly oiled tart pan. Its too sticky and soft to roll out. You’ll just end up using all your swears otherwise.

For the pecan pie goo.

4 eggs

3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup crushed pecans

1/2 cup crushed hazelnuts

1/2 cup coconut flakes

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, whisk the eggs with the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and vanilla extract. Add in the coconut, pecans and hazelnuts, and pour that into your tart pan. Bake for 40 minutes, or until when you give the pan a light shove it no longer undulates a wave of goo.

Semi Sweet Chocolate Drizzle

Just use dark or semi sweet chocolate, this thing is already teaming with sugar. The slight bitterness of the dark chocolate is a welcome additive to the to the salivary gland squeezing sweetness of this tart.

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup semi sweet or dark chocolate chips

On low, melt the butter. Add in the chocolate chips and stir until they are melted and combined well with the butter. If you’re a neanderthal like me, pour it into a plastic sandwich bag, seal the top, a cut a small hole in one of the corner. Drizzle that over the top of your pecan pie once it pops out of the oven, and let it cool for at least an hour.

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Pimenton roasted game hen with Mediterranean couscous

Pimenton sauce is freaking tasty. I recently ate it at a delightful restaurant downtown. I’m pretty sure this is going to go on everything for the next few weeks (or until I run out of smokey paprika). I had initially seen a recipe from my friend Jason, on the NY times website for Moroccan game hens and couscous. It looks nice. But the addition of paprika really made me want to over do it. Basting these little birds with a slightly diluted version of the pimenton sauce makes them wonderfully flavorful. After its finished cooking you can spread it all over everything, like a 5 year old to ketchup.

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3 game hens cut in half

4 cups of Israeli couscous

4 cups strong chicken broth

1 large chopped onion

6 cloves of chopped garlic

1 cup golden raisins

2 tbs of tumeric

1 tbs cinnamon

1 tbs Baharat spice

1 tsp salt

water

Pimenton sauce

1/4 smokey paprika

1 large onion

4 cloves of garlic

1 tsp salt

the juice of 1 lemon

1 bay leafs

1 tbs flour

1 1/2 cup water

1 tbs butter

For the baste

1/4 cup pimenton sauce

1/4 cup butter

Juice of half a lemon

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For the pimenton sauce, saute the onion and garlic in a medium sauce pan, with butter,  until blanched. Add in the paprika, water, bay leaf, lemon juice, and salt. let that simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn the heat to medium high and whisk in the flour. Once the mixture has thickened, blend it with a hand blender or regular blender until smooth. Let it cool and serve.

Putting it all together

Preheat the oven to 375. Rinse the couscous and place it in a lightly oiled roasting pan. Mix in the turmeric, cinnamon, salt, and baharat spice. Spread the onion, garlic and raisins over the, and gently mix. Pour the chicken broth over the top, and and place the hens over the couscous. Melt the butter, mix in the lemon and pimenton sauce, and baste the hens with it. Pop that in the oven, baste it every half hour with the pimenton sauce mixture, and add water to the couscous as needed. Bake it for 1 1/2 hours or until the legs easily break away from the body. Once its out of the oven, fluff the couscous and place the hens on top.

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Filed under Exotic meats, Holiday foods, poultry

A Cranberry Liqueur. Booze to make your Guests Smooze

So, my mom is cooler than me. I’m sure I’ve stated it before, and I’ll probably state it again. For the last few falls shes been making me peach liqueur, and blueberry liqueur. Both of which last me a few weeks, and then I have to go over and make one of the the worlds most distraught face, as I tell her that I couldn’t help myself, and I drank it. ( I really did lose it this time I swear!!) So now, in order to get as many cool points as my dear mom, I’ve been trying my hand at making liqueurs this holiday season. For Thanksgiving it was pumpkin spice, now that we’ve hit Christmas I made a delightful cranberry. They make easy gifts for drinkers, and can act as a fantastic liquid lubricant for any slow party, especially if you use everclear!

 

12 oz fresh cranberries

Juice and zest of 1 orange

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 gallon Vodka or Everclear

1 cup more sugar for later

In a medium sized pot, add orange juice, zest and sugar. Turn the heat to medium low, and let the sugar disolve into the orange juice. Throw in a light splash of water, and add in the cranberries, Stew them down to where they’ve burst, and are becoming almost like homemade cranberry sauce. Set them aside to cool for 30 minutes. Separate your cranberry into 4 different containers, (I use mason jars) and add in the vodka. Store it in a cool, dark place for 2-4 weeks. When your time is up, strain the cranberries out, and add in 1/4 cup of sugar into each jar, and let is sit for one to two more weeks, giving it the occasional shake as you go. When the time comes, break it out, give it one last shake for good measure, and pour over ice, or mix it with 7 up for a tasty treat!

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Caramel Apple Pear Tart to Stick in Your Pie Hole

Its Pie time bitches. I took a month and a half off, sorda. I wanted to blog, but for reasons only known to me, the letter A is no longer on my laptop. I don’t want to talk about it, but I will say, karma might actually have foresight. I blogged like 15 posts about halfway and then would move on to what ever shiny object attracted my attention. Now I’m finishing them, at least some… So,  I made this salted caramel apple pear tart crumble. Yes the title is wordy, how else are you going to truly understand why you want to eat it so bad.

So I found this recipe in fine cooking magazine, no, the idea is not my own, but this is my bastardization of it. Its pretty much the same. I decided not to do a lattice. Caramel will stick to the top of the crumble better. And the amounts differ, because at some point I got too excited to pay attention.

I apologize for the quality of this photo. To avoid burn edges do what granny says, and line the edges of your pie with tinfoil.

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For the crust

1 cup butter

1 1/2  cups+ flour

3/4 cups ground hazelnuts

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup sugar

Mix the flour, hazelnuts, salt, sugar and butter together until crumbles begin to form. Add a tablespoon of cold water, and kneed it only until the water is mixed in, and form it into two balls. Roll out one of the balls on a floured surface, and flip it into a tart pan. Reform the second ball into more crumbles by adding 1/4 cup more flour, and set it aside for the filling.

For the filling

2 pears

2 apples

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp cardamom

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup flour

1 tsp salt

Thinly slice up the apples and pears, and add in the sugar, flour, cardamom and and lemon juice and zest. Mix them up and set them aside while you make the caramel. I know I can add more spices, but simplicity makes this pies flavors come out.

For the Caramel

1/4 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

3/4 cups heavy cream

Making your own caramel is not as big of a pain in the ass as you would think. It just feels harried and it can be scary. So, In a sauce pan on medium melt the butter, add in the sugar and salt, and stir it until the sugar has melted into the butter. Stir it every minute or two, until your sugar butter mix begins to lightly brown and caramelize. Once things feel like they are about to get out of hand with the browning,  and you are getting what looks like tiny chunks of melted wherthers candies (or hard caramels) quickly remove it from the heat, (I would suggest putting on an apron and some gloves for this) pour in the heavy cream, and whisk whisk whisk until the caramelized sugar has softened back into the the cream. If when you pour it in, a sudden freak burst of steam pops up. Just step back for a second until the heavy cream calms the F down, and go back to whisking. Once everything has combined into a lovely sauce, let it cool for a bit while you assemble your pie. (Pro tip: double the recipe and save half for your coffee. YAY!!!!)

Pie assembly

Yes, this does seem like a lot of work. It only takes like 30 minutes to get to this point once you make it twice. I’m sorry. Sometimes delicious isn’t easy. Preheat your oven to 375. Toss your pears and apples into the pie pan, and add a large potion of your caramel evenly over the top, then sprinkle the crumble over the top. Pop that in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the top has crisped, and the juices of the pie have began to bubble. That bubble is so important. Remove it, and once your pie has cooled enough to serve (because you won’t want to wait) drizzle the remains of the caramel over the top of the crumble.

 

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Sausage rolls with Guinness gravy

With the most holy of drinking holidays quickly approaching, its time to prepare your party menu. Step aside green eggs and ham. You’re gross, you taste like disappointment and bad hangovers. Sausage rolls are far better for your party, and people won’t think that they are back in the first grade. These flaky sausage rolls are an easy addition, and the sauce compliments them perfectly.

2 pounds ground pork sausage

1 chopped onion

3 cloves minced garlic

1 tbs Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp ground sage

A few sprigs of fresh thyme

chopped fresh oregano

salt, and pepper to taste

1/2 cup flour

2 sheets of puff pastry dough

1 egg

Brown your sausage with garlic and onions over medium heat. Add the fresh herbs, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper. Let that simmer for a few minutes and add in the flour until your mixture is coated. Remove it from the heat, save approximately 1/4 cup of the mixture for the gravy, and set the rest aside to cool (about a half hour).

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Roll out your puff pastry into a thin square and place two long mounds of the sausage mixture on it. Fold the pastry over the top of the sausage and seal it with a bit of water. Brush the top of the pastry with a whisked egg, and bake it at 375 for 30 minutes or until the top is brown and flaky.

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For the gravy

1/4 cup sausage mixure

1 cup au jus

a splash or two of Guinness

Salt to taste (optional)

1 tsp flour for thickening (if necessary

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Using the meat for this makes it a cinch, because all the necessary flavors, and thickeners are already in place to get it going. Bring your au jus and Guinness to a  light simmer until the alcohol cooks off. Add in your sausage mixture and stir, until it reaches your desired thickness. Slice up your rolls at 3 to 4 inches in length and serve it with your gravy.

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Peppermint Christmas Fudge

Its Christmas cookie season! Time to put on no less than 7 pounds and eat as much magical deliciousness as you can fit in your belly. My great Aunt Eilene had an amazing fudge recipe that has been lost and found many many times. Its not too hard, its not too soft, it pours perfectly and tastes amazing. So of course I had to take it and make it just ever so slightly my own. I added peppermint extract to it, and bashed the hell out of some candy canes and sprinkled them on top. There is a secret to making this recipe. The weather has to be just right. Just below freezing and a bit dry. The freezing weather creates the perfect temperature for your fudge to set and cool.

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1 12 oz can evaporated milk

4 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup of butter cubed

2 tsp peppermint extract

1 tsp vanilla extract

18 oz of semi sweet nestle toll house chocolate chips

a dash of salt

2 cups finely chopped walnuts

8 candy canes crushed

 

Once this recipe gets started,everything gets added in really quick so line up your ingredients and get your stirring arm ready. First! Make your crushed candy canes. Your best bet is to stick them inside of a ziplock bag, and take out all your aggression on them with your rolling pin or meat tenderizer. Set them off to the side. In a large pot add the sugar, butter and evaporated milk. Turn your heat to medium, and slowly but constantly stir it until it hits a rolling boil. Stir it while it boils for 10 minutes. If you have ever had boiling sugar land on your skin, you know to wear a long sleeve shirt (it hurts like hell, and burns for a bit longer than if you had hot grease land on your skin). Once your 10 minutes are up immediately remove it from the heat and add in chocolate chips, vanilla and peppermint extract, and (if you want them) your walnuts. Stir until all the ingredients are well mixed and smooth. Pour into two 9×9 square dishes, approximately 1 inch thick, sprinkle candy cane crumbs over the top, and set it out on your back porch to cool in the blisteringly cold weather for 1 1/2 to two hours…. or you could use a freezer… like a normal person, but wheres the fun in that?

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Cranberry Apple pie, The red headed slut of the pie world

Pumpkin pie haters of the world unite! I’ve made a lovely holiday pie certain to knock the socks off your guests. It’s Apple pie’s sultry, alcoholic sister, the cranberry apple pie. I went to my parents house today for my weekend visit. My mom handed me a container of cranberries to whip up for Thanksgiving dinner, and I couldn’t help but get into them and make some pie magic. I also snuck something else into the pie; 2 shots of peach dekuyper. The booze is cooked off while it bakes, and what you are left with is pie bliss. Plus, you can serve that up with what you can call your signature holiday drink, I personally call it a red headed slut.

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There is a war that quietly brews over pie over crust. Anyone who makes pie on a regular basis thinks that their pie crust is the best. They swear they’ve stolen the recipe from their late great granny, and the secret key to making good crust is ______. Usually some voodoo involving a blessing, your first born child and ice cold water. Anyone else’s pie crust by pales by comparison to theirs. Pie crust is almost a religion that divides some kitchens, homes, and neighborhoods. It briefly drove a small wedge between my own mother and I on the pie making front, but I prevailed. For me, nothing tops a butter crust. It might be a touch harder to make, and it might look a bit more rustic, but the taste and texture are unbeatable. I’m a crust snob. If its store bought I just assume that you hate me, and were raised by wolves. I am however a bit more on the relaxed end of things. The butter and water should be cold, and you should handle it as little as possible, but extra refrigeration etc. are unnecessary, unless its a really hot day. Its like only being religious on Christmas and Easter.

For the pie innards

8 large honey crisp apples pealed and cored

1/2 cup cranberries

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup flour

1 tbsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp all spice

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp cloves

2 shots peach dekuyper

1/4 cup butter chopped into small squares

A dash of salt

The juice and zest of 1/2 a  lemon

For the butter crust

2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup butter chopped into small cubes

1 tsp salt

1-2 tbsp cold water

For the red headed slut

1 shot peach dekuyper

1 shot jaeggermeister

Cranberry juice

For the innards, slice up your apples to your favorite pie size. Add in cranberries, sugar, flour,  spices, salt, and booze. Mix it up, and allow it to sit while you make your amazing pie crust.

For the crust, this is important. DON’T use room temperature butter. The reason people hate to make butter crust is their butter is too warm. You’ll want to handle your dough as little as possible. You don’t kneed pie dough. No one does that anymore. It makes for a tough, sad girl crust. There are two ways to go about doing it. You can mix the ingredients by hand or with a pastry blender, or you can stick the butter, salt, and flour into your handy dandy food processor, and give it a slow whirl until it forms into little crumbs. Once you get your flour, butter and salt into a crumbly mixture, add about 1 tablespoon of cold water to it. Quickly mix that in, and form your dough into two equal balls. Roll each ball out until they are just shy of 1/4″ thick. Flip one into your pie dish, and fill it with your apples and cranberries. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of chopped up butter over the top. Then roll out and flip the top on. If you get holes in your dough its ok. Grab a small pinch of the dough that is drooping over the side of your pie dish, get it a tiny bit wet, and press it into the holes.  (The best pie making tool I’ve bought is a bakers mat. It works wonders for flipping pie crusts and rolling anything out. I love it.)  A nice one will run you about $15.00) Seal your pie with any lovely method you see fit, and bake the pie at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour, until the pie juices start to bubble up. If your crust prematurely browns, just wrap a ring of tinfoil around the edges. Pull that puppy out, Sprinkle a cinnamon and sugar mixture over the top, bring on your signature holiday drink and enjoy.

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Adventures in the making of a haggis

I’ve never made a food that inspires such a wide variety of responses as haggis. When you ask for a haggis, some people gag a little, others laugh, a few will ask whether or not you know what you’re making, and then you get that occasional individual who gets excited, and asks if they can have some. 

A good friend of mine asked me to make her a haggis a few years ago. I politely declined, and told her that boiling isn’t actual cooking. After declining a few more times, and agreeing, to make her stop asking, she finally caught me at a moment when I was inebriated enough to hammer down a date. Initially, I was going to get her a haggis from my local super duper market, and boil that for her. But then I started reading up on how to make haggis, research led to so many questions, and I decided to make it myself. For those of you who don’t know, haggis is the heart, liver, and lungs of a sheep, stuffed into it’s own stomach with oats, herbs, and spices. Here in the states lung meat is considered unfit for human consumption, but pretty much everywhere else its fair game. There are any number of replacement meats you can use in place of the lung,s such as tongue or the kidneys. However, I was lucky enough to find someone to give me all the parts I needed.

Don’t even try to go to your local grocery, or even your local super market to get a haggis. They are the ones that laugh and tell you no. You can acquire a ready made haggis off Amazon fresh.  Or you can start the lengthy search to find your meat. One option is halal markets, they can refer you to their butcher.  Most of their lamb meat is cheap, and I’ve found that it has less of a gamey flavor. You can go to a USDA farm, and they can do the slaughtering for you there and sell you the parts you need (USDA certified farms are few and far between).    Another place you could go is your local butcher. Eventually they will go out to slaughter a lamb, and if you make nice enough, he may just save them for you. If you get the response that I did from them, your next step is to call the farm direct. This was the route I took and it was by far the most fruitful, but also the most trying. There is a really lame law in place that basically makes it illegal to do a 3rd party sale of just the garbage parts, or single cuts of meats from the farm itself . So Butcher can have some, farmer can have some, but Bri  who just wants the guts for a nominal fee cant have any. She has to buy an entire lamb, which will run you around 200 – 300$. Or the person gets the meat for free because they are a guest on the farm. Keep trying. Eventually you will find someone who is willing to cut you a little slack.   If all else fails, apparently you can call the FFA, and a future farmer might butcher a lamb for you, for learning purposes.

Now for those of you who are still disgusted, whats the difference between my haggis and your sausage. Thats all haggis really is.. A sausage made out of lamb. It actually tastes like more of a lamb meatloaf. Keep saying you know exactly whats in yours. The only way you know that is if you make it yourself. For all you know you could be eating ground up pork shins, guts,  and hooves. I know exactly what is going into mine. I also know where it came from, and how happy it looked on its farm. It was a pretty happy looking sheep.

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I do recommend going to a farm and seeing how this whole process takes place. I was lucky enough that Island Crossing Farm allowed me to come down and collect my organs while the butchering took place. I was able  to talk to the butcher and get the exact cuts of meat that I wanted, I saw how the sheep and animals were treated, and got to see their border collies expertly work with the sheep on the land. I was quite impressed with the whole operation. I may go halfsies on a lamb in the future from them. They really made my haggis experience. Plus they had puppies, adorable ones that looked like tiny pandas.

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My haggis will be used for a burns night celebration. I’ve also made a second baby haggis to test before then, to ensure that I’m not feeding my guests something offal (hehehehehe). I started off wanting to make this as traditional as possible. Then I tasted boiled lamb lung, and decided to make it taste good instead. Base recipes call for a teaspoon of salt, mixed herbs, spices and pepper. First of all, my haggis weighs 6 pounds. Please explain to me how those recipes are going to get any good flavor out of a teaspoon of  anything. I tried it. It tasted like a track stars shoe, that had been training in a swamp for a month. I went a little flavor rogue .

1 set of lamb lungs

1 lamb heart

1 lamb liver

1 lb ground lamb

1 beef bung

6 cups of water

1 lb beef suet

1 cup toasted steel cut oats

3 onions

8 cloves of garlic

2 nutmeg seeds (one whole, one ground)

3 black cardamon pods

1 tablespoon of fennel seeds

2 tablespoons of sage powder

1 teaspoon of oregano

3 tablespoons of pepper

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

a large dash of rosemary

1/8th cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup Talisker

1/4 tsp liquid smoke

1 1/2 cups beef broth

Salt to taste. Its a lot of salt. Don’t be shy.

Now we get down to the nitty gritty part of this whole operation. Cleaning and prepping the organs. We’ll start with the stomach. I didn’t get a superb picture of it unfortunately. Sheep have very thick stomachs with few layers that have easy dissection. I’ve seen the inside of a human stomach, and by comparison, ours seems to be far more tender. They have basically what looks like the tissue of a gigantic tongue on the inside of theirs, with tiny papillae, approximately 2 millimeter in size all over the surface. It is appropriately stained with grass. Your challenge is to soak that in a salt and vinegar mixture, and then scrape off the papillae, and greenness, without slicing a hole in it. I gave up pretty quickly, and bought a beef bung off amazon fresh. If you have the intestinal fortitude to go through with the whole operation, be my guest, and please rub it in my face after. I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed in me. Beef bungs are easy though. Thoroughly rinse it, soak it over night in a salt and vinegar bath, then roll it inside out until you can see the bottom, and get to stuffin’! Beef bungs, like lamb organs, are hard to find. Look for a butcher that sells things like capicola, or just different kinds of cured meats. Or google the hell out of it like I did, get frustrated with the run around, and order it online.

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Next comes the lungs. If you’re lucky, your windpipe will be intact. Mine had a couple holes in key places. What you should do, is gently cut the heart off, and remove the surrounding fat. Put your lungs in a pot and bring it to a boil. All that phlegm, and nastiness brewing in there will simmer up through the windpipe, and into a cleverly placed bowl outside of the pot, making cleaning a cinch! Since I couldnt do that, I cut mine up. Sheep lungs as well as our own have several tracts in them that absorb our oxygen. Knowing this, I cut the windpipe off, and squeezed up from the base to get the nasties out, then I began cutting and squishing and squeezing to get the rest out. Next you’ll stick that in a boiling pot. The rest of the grossness will leach out, and you’ll be able to spoon it off the surface of the water. Yay!

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Now comes the liver. There is a secret layer over the top of the liver. When you cut or clean off the fat and other bits, it should lift. You can easily pull it off with your fingers. I took my liver and stuck it in a ton of lemon juice and water. This is a sneaky trick. Its not like I’m going to be able to gently cook it until its tender, and eat it with some fava beans, and a nice chianti,  but it does make the flavor softer. After an hour of soaking I pulled it out, cut it into small pieces and added it to my pot.

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The heart it easy enough. I sliced it in half, pulled the blood clots out and removed the fat and thin tissue layer from the outside, and chopped it up.

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You’ll need to keep removing the nastiness from the surface of your water. I added about 2 tablespoons of salt, whole nutmeg and black cardamom into my tea strainer and let it continue on a high simmer for 2 hours. It smells horrible. Crack a window, somehow boil it outside, but for the sake of your families appetite, really make sure you have good ventilation.  I’ve made lamb stew many times and it didn’t smell like this at all. Many recipes say to add a couple cups of this to your haggis once its been ground or minced. It didn’t taste quite as bad as it smelled, but smell is about half of taste. I gave it one last taste, to give it the benefit of the doubt, and then chucked it. While everything boils, cook your lamb, chop up your onions and garlic and saute them until they are blanched and set them aside for later.

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Let your meats cool, and mince them or put them through a meat grinder. Mincing them is a ton of work. I highly suggest the meat grinder. It took me 10 un-frustrating minutes to push everything through, and it gave me a bunch of extra time to tweak the flavor, which was completely necessary. First I added a bunch more salt. Which brought the flavor to kind of a slightly salted, gamey meat loaf. Then I peppered it, added in my lemon, liquid smoke and Worcestershire sauce,  and herbs. It finally started resembling something that actually tasted good. Once I was satisfied with the flavor I added in the Talisker ( don’t you dare use crappy whiskey for this), toasted oats, beef broth and suet.

Stuffing the beef bung was super easy, and incredibly messy to do on my own. Its also one of the more visually unappetizing portions of this process. In my job I’ve seen a lot of bowel surgeries. It reminded me of the first time I saw a megacolon. Really, that is what beef bung is. Cow cecum. We also have a cecum. Its right above your appendix.  ♫ “The more you know” ♫. The easiest way to do it, is to pretend you’re putting a tube sock on someone else. Roll it inside out, until you reach the bottom, stick your hand in the outside portion (now inside because its inverted) and grab a handful of your haggis meat. It should be enough to get you started. You’ll then just continue to shovel more and more of the meat in, being careful not to over stuff because it will explode if you do (those oats expand).

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Finally tie it off, and then tie the end up with a string one more time for good measure and get ready to relax. I put a lot of time and energy into this little project. There are so many warnings and ways to burst a haggis. A few holes need to be poked in it, and I also wrapped mine in a cheese cloth for extra protection. You’ll see why when you drop it in your water. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and then drop your haggis in. I almost messed myself when I did this. It puffed up INSTANTLY.  Immediately drop the heat to medium (Low simmer) And commence sipping your whiskey and neurotically checking it ever 5 minutes to ensure it hasnt burst.

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Find someone to pipe your haggis in the room, recite Robert Burns’  Address to a haggis and serve it some mashed Neeps & Tatties (turnips and potatoes) maybe a gravy, and a glass of your favorite whisky, and celebrate the magic that is a homemade haggis.

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