Haggis—and Other Scottish Yummies


The Highlands of Scotland near Gairloch
The Highlands of Scotland near Gairloch

This photo has nothing to do with this post. But if I put up a picture of haggis, would you be reading this? If you don’t know what haggis is, read on. Or if you don’t know what clootie dumpling is, read on. Or chapshot—you’ll never guess that one.

On a recent trip to the Scottish Highlands, I wanted to sample as many of the uniquely Scottish dishes as I could. Here’s what I ate.

Haggis and Clapshot

Cullen Skink

Arbroath Smokie

Black Pudding

Clootie Dumpling

Huh? They speak English in Scotland, but sometimes it’s a little hard to understand.

This is what I really ate.

Haggis: You might have heard the ingredients and shuddered. Sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, and spices. It’s traditionally encased in and boiled in a sheep’s stomach, but more likely today it’s in an artificial casing. Sounds offal, (sorry, I couldn’t help it), but it’s quite tasty. Just don’t think about it when you eat it.

Clapshot: The haggis was served over clapshot. Mashed potatoes and “turnips.” The British call the latter vegetable “swede,” the Scots call it a “turnip” or “neeps,” and Americans call it “rutabaga.” So, it’s a mash of potatoes and rutabaga—yummy. I often make this as a side dish.

Cullen Skink: A fish soup so good you’ll want the recipe. One of the recipes I looked at added a bit of sherry. I had Cullen Skink our last night of the trip at the award winning  Bridge Inn at Ratho. I still think about this soup and wish I had a bowl of it in front of me to tuck into. The ultimate comfort food.

Arbroath Smokie: Fish for breakfast. A whole gutted fish—mercifully minus the head—smoked, skin like tanned Italian leather. But the most wonderful smoked fish flavor I’ve ever tasted. The innkeeper said I must have been a pathologist because I so thoroughly dissected the carcass. I didn’t want to miss any. A little boney, but worth it.

Black Pudding: Okay, now stay with me on this. Patties of oatmeal mixed together with pigs’ blood. Seriously, it’s good. Don’t know what else to say about it except, try it, you might like it. I was surprised it wasn’t stinky. The full Scottish breakfast comes with a slice or two of grilled black pudding. A friend asked me what it tastes like, and I said, “It’s oatmeal-flavored.” She laughed; I don’t know why.

Clootie Dumpling: This sweet gets its name from the old English word “clout” or “cloth.” It’s pretty much a raisin fruit cake done up in a floured cloth and boiled. I had a slice as part of my sumptuous breakfast at Glenardoch House.

What yummy dishes have you eaten in Scotland?

Again, nothing to do with haggis. Another lovely picture of the Scottish Highlands. Do go.
Nothing to do with haggis. But another lovely picture of the Scottish Highlands.

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