Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Haggis and Luchito tacos: a Scottish Oaxacan fusion

The smokiness of Gran Luchito is such a perfect match for the rich, spicy haggis you'd think they were made for each other.

Having said that, I wouldn't be surprised if some of my non-Scottish readers are a bit dubious about this recipe.

I was inspired to make haggis tacos by of Saint Andrew's Day (30 November). Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, and he's also my patron saint, proof that I was meant to live here.
So last Friday I decided to cook a Mexican/Scottish fusion dish, sort of like my blog logo in food form.

Of course, I.'m not the first person to put haggis in a taco. Illegal Jack's on Lothian Road does it; probably some other places as well.

But I may well be the first to add smoked chile to the famous "chieftain o' the puddin' race". However, before we get to the recipe, let's talk about haggis.

Haggis is one of those things that many people have heard of, but what they've heard isn't always right. So what are the common questions about haggis?

Is haggis cooked in a sheep's stomach?

No. It used to be. Now it is cooked in a large collagen casing.
Sausages, which everyone loves, used to be stuffed into pig intestines, but are now also encased in collagen. In the olden days people didn't have many artificial materials, and they had to use every part of the animal. Now they don't.

Is haggis made from, like, guts and lungs and shit?

By "guts and lungs and shit" I mean "offal", which rhymes with "awful".

Offal is the collective name for the edible internal organs of an animal, such as hearts, liver, etc.

Although everyone used to eat this stuff (and a lot of posh restaurants still serve it), many modern diners find the idea of it "awful" indeed.

Yes, haggis is made with offal. So are sausages (especially cheap ones). And let's not even talk about what goes into hot dogs.

But the truth about haggis is it doesn't contain all that much meat of any description. For all that everyone knows about the sheep's stomach thing, people forget the other famous ingredient in haggis: oatmeal.

Haggis was poverty-food, so the scant bits of offal were bulked out with dried oats. Then the whole thing was mixed with spices to make it taste better. This is still done today.

Does haggis actually taste good?

Yes, haggis is delicious. Unusually for a traditional British dish, it is full of flavour, and even quite spicy (these days it is seasoned with a lot of black pepper).

It also goes beautifully with a dram of single malt Scotch whisky. And as my favourite Scotch is the smoky Ardbeg (an Islay malt), it occurred to me that haggis and smoked chile would make an excellent taco filling.

Now, the recipe...

Ingredientes

500 g haggis, cooked according to the instructions
1-2 tbsp Gran Luchito Oaxacan smoked chile paste
6-8 warm corn tortillas
Radishes, finely chopped or shredded
Salsa of your choice
Oil or fat for frying

Preparación

 Heat about 2 tbsp of oil in a saucepan. Then add the Gran Luchito.

You have to estimate your taste on this. Luchito is pretty spicy. You don't want to exceed your limit, but you do want the smoky flavour to come through. I used 2 tablespoons, but I'm a chile fiend.

When the Luchito has started to loosen a bit, add about a third of the cooked haggis and gently mix it in as if you were folding it into a larger mixture.

When it's well incorporated, fold in the next third of the haggis and repeat until it's all fully mixed.

The haggis will now have a reddish-brown colour running through it.

To serve, place about 2 dessert spoons of the haggis into a warm tortilla, top with finely chopped or shredded radishes and a salsa of your choice.

The peppery radishes are a good complement to the haggis and also provide a bit of bite (haggis is very soft).

For the salsa, I think a salsa picante made from chiles de árbol works well and adds a nice splash of colour, but it's very hot!

A milder roast tomato salsa could also work.

Alternatively you could double up on the smokiness by using a smoked chile salsa.

Or, if you want to turn the heat down, try some Mexican crema or commercial sour cream.

When I first conceived this dish, I planned to use chipotles en adobo, but I'm glad I opted for the Luchito instead.

Adobo sauce is so bit on the sweet side, which I think may have clashed with the haggis. Luchito has a more subtle sweetness which blended well, and the depth of flavour was more than able to stand up to the haggis's rich seasoning.

If I haven't convinced you on Scotland's National Dish, you're unlikely to try this, but I definitely see this becoming a MexiGeek household tradition.

Fair fa' yer honest, sonsie face!