What Does Haggis Actually Taste Like?

Editor
We know what’s in it, but what does it taste like?
Haggis

Photo Modified: Flickr/ Bernt Rostad/ CC4.0

Haggis, served in the traditional style with tatties and neeps, at Tass on High Street in Edinburgh. 

You probably know by now what haggis is. The Scottish delicacy, one of the world’s most infamously bizarre foods, is made by mincing up sheep’s “pluck” (heart, liver, and lungs) and combining it with chopped onions, oatmeal, beef fat, herbs, and spices including cloves and thyme, occasionally some whiskey, and stock. The mixture is then stuffed into the sheep’s stomach and boiled, then scooped out of the stomach to be served, usually alongside mashed potatoes and turnips (tatties and neeps). So, yeah, it definitely sounds pretty gross. But what does it actually taste like?

If you can get past the whole innards thing, apparently it’s not bad at all. Larousse Gastronomique describes it as having “an excellent nutty texture and delicious savoury flavor.” The texture is crumbly, and according to this writer, who tried a lung-free American version (the lung part is illegal in the U.S.), the flavor is quite mellow, earthy from the spices, slightly livery (as can be expected), with a nuttiness from the oats. Writer Francis Lam sampled some at Brooklyn’s Chip Shop: “It’s not dry, per se, but it had a sort of negative juiciness, like it wants to suck the moisture from your mouth,” he wrote. “As I chewed, the sheep bits came through — kind of a livery, earthy, minerally flavor. Like mud and meat. I know it doesn’t sound like it, but I think I liked it.”

The Daily Meal’s U.K.-born Entertain Editor Hannah Hoskins has sampled haggis, and told us that it “doesn’t taste like much.” But our editorial director Colman Andrews, who’s eaten the dish many times on his globetrotting adventures, finds it to be enjoyable. “It's actually delicious — peppery and a little earthy but not organ-meat-tasting in the livery sense,” he told us. “It's basically sausage — ground meat mixed with a binder (oats in this case) and stuffed into a sheep's stomach (traditionally) or plastic (in frequent modern practice) instead of into a pig's intestine (traditionally) or some other casing as with conventional sausage. All the myth and lore about its fearsomeness is just a lot of tripe.”

So, perhaps it’s not as gross as it looks. Or maybe it is. That’s probably up to you, and how OK you are with slightly funky flavors and the comcept of eating organ meats. If you’re ever in Scotland and someone offers you a bite, hell, you only live once!  

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