The Other Haggis


Haggis is typically served on Burns Night, January 25, when Scotland celebrates the birth of their greatest poet, Robert Burns, who was born in Ayrshire on that date in 1759.

During the celebration, Burns poems are read, and the haggis is addressed by a member of the party, ceremonially, in the form of verses from Burns’ poem, Address to a Haggis.

A typical meal for Burns Night would include Cock-a-Leekie, Haggis with Tattie-an’-neeps (and before you ask, that’s potatoes and turnips), Roastit Beef, Tipsy Laird, and Dunlop Cheese.”

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Traditional Haggis

  • The stomach of a sheep
  • The pluck — ie, the heart, liver, and lights (lungs)
  • Half a pound minced beef-suet
  • Two teacupsful toasted oatmeal
  • four onions
  • one pint of the pluck boilings (no other liquid)
  • four teaspoons salt
  • one and a half teaspoons pepper

Wash the bag well in cold water, put it into hot water and scrape it; then let it lie in cold water all night with a little salt.

Wash the pluck well; put it into a pan, letting the windpipe hang over the side into another pan to avoid mess; cover it with boiling water.

Add a teaspoonful of salt and let it boil for two hours; then take it out of the pan, and when it is cold, cut away the windpipe.

Grate a quarter of the liver (not using the rest for the haggis), and mince the heart and lights with the suet and par-boiled onions.

Add to all these the oatmeal, which had been dried and toasted to a golden colour before the fire or in the oven; also the pepper and the salt, and a pint of the liquor in which the pluck was boiled. Mix these all well together.

Take the bag and fill it little more than half full of the mince; if it be too full, it will burst in boiling. Prick the bag occasionally with a needle to prevent it bursting.

Boil this for three hours, then serve it on a hot plate.

from the Edinburgh College of Domestic Science © 1952, courtesy of Jo Hewat Olmstead.

Address To A Haggis

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.


The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hrdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready sleight,
trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve,
Are bent lyke drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
“Bethankit!” ‘hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ View
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a haggis!