Yes, it is haggis time again. Last year around this time I gave you a bit of background history and some recipe and serving advice so have a little butchers here ….
This year has been a bit milder some we are hoping for a better supply from the highlands but it hasn’t always been that way ….
This once popular sport amongst the nobility and gentry of Britain and Europe reached its peak in the early 1920s with gentlemen converging on the stately homes of the North Yorkshire Moors from all around Europe during haggis hunting season. Back in those days, when large haggis herds roamed the Moors in abundance, a hunt would last for several days, with literally dozens of haggis being shot (or hagged in hunting parlance) in just one session.
A good days work
A typical haggis hunting session would consist of the beaters, or haggillies to give them their correct name, taking their haggis hounds, an all but forgotten breed of specialised hunting dog, onto the Moors and herding the haggis towards the carefully positioned haggis hides. In these hides the hunters would wait patiently until the traditional cry of ‘Hag Ho!’ went up from the chief hagilly, at which point they would take up their gun positions and attempt to hag as many of the small but elusive creatures as possible as they stampeded past.
A typical haggis hunting party
In the intervening years between then and now there have been several unconfirmed sightings of haggis around the Moors, but the sad truth is that the haggis were hunted out of existence on the Moors and are now confined to the Highlands of Scotland.
So we have to rely on haggis being rustled across the border …
Haggis smuggling (a reconstruction to protect the identity of the smugglers)
Following my posting last year about Burns Night especially the traditional address to the haggis you might want to take a butchers at this nostalgic clip
Charlie the butcher
Well a couple of weeks ago we got a couple of egg trays of some beautiful pheasant eggs.
The colour and the size of the eggs are the first thing that caught my eye. The colour is a blue/ green a little like a country homes kitchen or a wall in Laura Ashley shop. They are the size of a squash ball. I was not too sure about how to eat these beautiful eggs, so a quick search said with celery salt. But I fancied them fried on bread so I did. The result was great, a lovely yellow colour and a delicate taste. If you see them buy them. Make a change to soak up that Sunday morning hangover. Well it worked for me with a black filter coffee. Be quick because the season runs from April to the end of June, so we only have a couple of weeks left.
I.m off to Inverness for the weekend for a wedding and hopefully a visit to a farm to see some Highland cattle.
Charlie the Butcher.
Sad times are ahead of us. The game season is almost drawing to a end. So now is the best time to fill your freezers up with birds. Look out for good deals at your local butchers and make the most of them.
Snipe 31st Jan
Partridge 1st Feb
Mallard 31st Jan
Woodcock 31st Jan
Pheasant 1st Feb
Charlie the Butcher.
With no close season wood pigeon is a fantastic source of game all year-round. But they are best between late spring and early autumn when they have been on the farmer’s crops. They are quite pricey, I got four breasts for £6.60 from Ferness Fish and Game at Borough Market the other day but they are great. If roasting, place some streaky bacon on over the breasts and roast for 20-25 mins at 200c. Remove the bacon for the last 10 mins to fully cook, allow one per person. Thats a simple way of roasting them. I’ve also had them on the bbq! Give them a go if the weathers good. I like to tart them up a little in a winter salad. It’s easy and well impressive.
Warm winter wood pigeon salad
- 6 pigeon breasts 6 people for starter or 3 people as a main.
- 2 thinly sliced raw beetroots
- 1 pack of lambs lettuce
- 1 Pomergranate
- Olive oil, pepper and salt
Season the breasts.
Fry in a pan until plump to the touch about 2 mins either side so they pink in the middle.
Put the lambs lettuce, beet and pomegranate on the plates.
Finish the breasts and slice, give each person one breast for a starter or two for a main dish.
Enjoy with a good glass of full-bodied red.
I think the crunch of the raw beets and the pomegranates popping in the mouth with the gamey pigeon is all a winning recipe. Give it a go….
Charlie the Butcher.