Claudia Romeo: We're
in Edinburgh, Scotland, and we're about to visit Macsween, a third-generation
family-run haggis producer. What we're about to see
is traditional haggis, which is encased in animal tripe and stuffed with meat, spices, salt, and a few more ingredients. So let's go and find out which ones. I've always been curious about haggis, and finally I get the
chance to travel to Scotland to find out how it's made and why it matters so much to Scots. Leading me in this
journey is James Macsween, who has turned his grandfather's
butcher shop in Edinburgh into one of the most successful
haggis companies in the UK.
James: Being a boy in a family business, I never get tired of eating haggis, from when I was old enough
to understand what my dad did to, you know, 40-plus years later. I love haggis. I love haggis. Claudia: There is no steadfast rule as to what specific animal
has to go into haggis. At Macsween, the base is
lamb lungs and beef fat. James: I'm the third-generation managing director of Macsween's. We're still using that same recipe that we started with in 1953. You can have a pork haggis,
you can have lamb and beef. You can have a lamb, beef, and pork. Some people make venison haggis. We've made venison haggis in the past. But as long as this business
has been making haggis, we have always made lamb and beef recipe. Claudia: How many lungs are there in here? James: Oh, hundreds, hundreds. They've all been, it's a big block of
meat that we guillotine. But, you know, there's hundreds. Claudia: OK. And how many haggis are
these going to make? James: By the time Connor has lifted everything for this batch, it will make 2,000 puddings, or 4,000 portions.
Claudia: Each pudding is meant to serve two to three people, so that is about two portions per pudding. It looks like marble.
James: Yeah, it's like… Claudia: It looks like Tuscan marble. James: Travertine. Pink travertine. Claudia: Yeah, yeah, yeah. James: Some manufacturers
mince a lot of their meat raw, and then they cook it in the casing. We don't do it like that.
Claudia: Oh, OK. James: We cook our lungs. Others, some don't.
Claudia: Don't. Oh.
James: So cooking it makes our haggis light and fluffy. So we…
Claudia: It smells like liver, actually.
James: Yeah, yeah, well, it will smell like it.
It doesn't taste like it. Claudia: And lungs, are they… they are safe to eat, I guess, but why is it that they are
banned in some countries? James: According to Canada and America, they think that you're
gonna contract tuberculosis. Pretty much every butcher in
Scotland will make haggis. We eat a huge amount
of haggis in Scotland. Everybody is OK. It's really well cooked. We cook the lungs. They then get, once they've been mixed with all the other ingredients, it goes into the casing,
it gets cooked again. And then for the consumer to
eat it, it gets cooked again. It's very safe. Claudia: What James is referring to is a 1971 US ban on imported animal lungs that is still in place today.
But while haggis cannot
be imported from Scotland, there are still some local producers feeding those hungry for
haggis across the pond. Lungs are cooked for about two hours before being mixed with onions and salt. Meanwhile, in this other room, spices and oatmeal are measured to then be blended together
with gravy and the minced meat. They wouldn't share the
full list of spices, but from what we can tell, there may be nutmeg, mace, and coriander.
James: It's really very simple. Claudia: Yeah. It is, actually. It's just a lot of ingredients. James: A lot of ingredients. It's just like making a
hot sausage or a salami. Claudia: But you would never just miss out on any of these ingredients?
James: Yeah. No, you wouldn't.
Claudia: If you make haggis without, like, spices, then. James: No. Haggis needs spice.
Claudia: Now it's time
to encase the haggis. This is done with beef intestine. So this is the intestine you use? James: Yeah, this is
just the beef intestine. This is what we call a large
bung, or the large intestine. This end here is the
equivalent of your appendix. Claudia: OK. James: So it's that part of the gut. And along here, there's a small hole. Claudia: Where is that? James: It's there. And that's where the large intestine joins the small intestine.
James: All these casings you would see being used for mortadella, which is what this casing's for, or salami, or chorizo. The small intestine is
typically used for salamis for a narrower caliber.
Claudia: Yeah. James: But for haggis, that's
that casing that we use. Claudia: Haggis is quite wide. James: Haggis is very wide. Claudia: OK. James: These are 454-gram haggis today, but we do make haggis that are 2.3 kilos. So they feed 10 people, and they're very wide and very long.
Claudia: And is there
a difference in taste as well, you know, at the end? James: Yes, very good question. Yeah. Like real cheese. Mature cheese, there is a
flavor that comes off the casing that gives it a more traditional flavor. Claudia: Oh, OK. James: It's a more mature flavor. Claudia: The freshly
made puddings are punched to let out the air as they cook. They will stay in the
oven for about an hour and cook at 100 degrees Celsius. Oh, wow, look at that! There's some yellow water coming out. Is this for the spices? James: Oh, no, that's the, that's the fat. Claudia: OK. So it's not water? James: No. Well, some of it's
water, and some of it's fat. Claudia: OK, wow. James: Because the casing's porous, it's just any, it's some of the fat, the moisture within the
haggis seeping through. So… Claudia: Oh, yeah. Of course there is fat. You know, you should save it.
You should make it, like,
foie gras or something. [James laughs] James: All the flavors
have been bound together through the cooking process. So you've got the lamb
meat, the beef meat, the oatmeal, the seasoning,
the spices, the salt. And then once that's now
been filled into the casing, the casing's now shrunk
through the cooking process. Claudia: It has shrunk so much. They've just come back,
like, half the size. The haggis need about
four hours to cool down before going to get vacuum-packed.
But these are not ready to be eaten yet? 'Cause they need to be heated up again after they're in the bags? James: That's what the consumer would do. Claudia: All right. James: But in the old
days, when we used to run the butcher shop, back when my grandfather
was running the business, if there was ever a burst haggis, the guys would take it away and eat it, 'cause it's, right now, the haggis at this stage is so tasty. Claudia: Is it? James: Oh, it's fresh
and succulent and juicy. Claudia: Oh, no! So we're
losing out on so much just by cooking it afterwards.
James: No, no. No, you have the same thing
again when you heat it.
But right now, there's nothing beats the
taste of fresh haggis. And the recipe has only
changed once in 67 years. We changed the blend of oatmeal. My father received a letter from a very well-renowned food
critic called Derek Cooper, and he said, "John, I think
your haggis is fantastic, but I think you could improve it. You might want to consider
changing the blend of oatmeal." And Dad did. Sent a haggis back to Derek, and Derek replied, going, "Perfection!" And we've never changed it since. Haggis isn't Scottish. Haggis in one way or another exists in every culture around the world. So a salami is a bit like a haggis, morcilla is a bit like a haggis, feijoada in a stew in Brazil
is a bit like a haggis. A haggis is a dish made
with the bits and pieces that aren't whole muscle meat.
So it's the original boil
in the bag, you know, because you're just using
all these bits and pieces and you make something that's very tasty and very affordable. Claudia: James isn't kidding about it being in almost every culture. In Czech cuisine they have jitrnice, in Romanian cuisine they have tobă, andouillette in France. They're all made from bits
and pieces of animal meat and encased to boil. Not only they are tasty, but they're also an economical way to use as much of the animal as possible. Despite this style of
cooking being everywhere, Scots have a unique passion for haggis. There is even one night
a year devoted to haggis, which acts as a sort of
unofficial national holiday. It's called Burns Night and
is named after Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet. A Burns supper traditionally kicks off with an address to the haggis. To show you how seriously they take it, I'm going to play James
reciting the entire poem, while I also show you a collection of people across Scotland acting it out. OK. Take it away, James! James: So, "To a Haggis" by Robert Burns.
[audience applauding] Claudia: Oh, wow. It's very soft. James: Yeah. Claudia: Smells quite good. James: Love it. Claudia: Wow. James: It's meaty, it's fluffy. It's got oats, it's peppery, it's nutty. Claudia: And I like the spices as well. It's not that overpowering. James: I'm glad you like it.
Claudia: It's good! James: Don't be shy. I'm not gonna be shy..