Tell me about Haggis

In a few short weeks I will be travelling to Scotland to attend a family member’s wedding and will be spending a week touring the country beforehand. I am generally a fairly adventurous eater and like to try local cuisines and feel like I should definitely give haggis a try while there. BUT, one of the flavors I ABSOLUTELY cannot abide is liver, in any way shape or form. I have had people tell me, “Oh there’s such a small amount in this dish there’s no way you could taste it over the other spices/ingredients, go ahead and try it”, but they were WRONG! I swear you could just wave a piece of liver at a rice dressing or cornbread stuffing or other dish from a distance of several feet, and I would taste it! Beef, chicken, pork, doesn’t matter. Liver is liver, and I find it VILE!

So, just how liver-y is haggis? I’ve heard some people say it tastes rather like a typical meatloaf, but does it really? If I did want to give it a try, is it ever available on any sort of sampler plate, or maybe a buffet, where I could get a small spoonful to sample without having to order (and possibly/probably? waste) a whole dish? On the one hand, I would hate to visit Scotland and leave without at least sampling some. But on the other I would really rather not order a whole dish of it only to waste it after the first taste.

What say you, Dopers?

I’ve only had canned haggis. I like it.

Liver is a main ingredient; so if you don’t like liver, you’re probably not going to like it. Fortunately, I love liver.

It has liver undertones, but it’s not the dominant flavour. It’s more oats and pepper, to be honest.

If you want a relatively cheap sample before laying down cash at a restaurant, just go into any chip shop in the country and ask for a single haggis, or ask for a haggis supper if you want chips (thick-cut fries) with it. That’s a battered and deep-fried tube of haggis, so it’ll give you an idea. Also, a late night haggis supper with plenty of salt and sauce is an ideal way to pre-empt a hangover should you find yourself in that situation.

Well, to me I’ve always found it somewhere more to a black-pudding taste but more peppery and with a definite liver-y hint.

That will probably mean it won’t appeal to you and that’s a shame for you as it is some good eatin’.

I would say that the liver is almost undectable to me. I agree that the main flavours are oats and pepper.

It’s not quite meatloaf. It’s not quite sausage. And it’s not quite porridge. But it’s damned tasty. The canned stuff is OK. Perhaps you could find one in a specialty shop or on-line before you go?

Haggis is lovely stuff. To me, it tastes like spicy liverwurst but it’s so much more. I’m not a big liver fan, but I love haggis.

Only had it a couple times and quite some time ago, but I recall it tasting pretty mild (which is not a word I’d usually apply to liver). If you absolutely abhor liver, it may not be a good fit.

That said, I recall having a pretty small serving as a side item at a meal, so I don’t think you have to throw away too much cash to give it a try. If memory serves, I had it as an ala carte side with a Full Scottish breakfast. I HEARTILY recommend having a full Scottish at some point – it’s a perfect example of heart-cloggingly-delicious food.

It’s like a mildly peppery sausage. I’ve eaten it several times in Scotland as a part of breakfast or for dinner with tatties and neeps, and don’t find it particularly liverish.

Haggis is made from sheep liver, not cow liver. The two livers taste very different. I cannot abide cow liver and am fine with haggis.

BTW try a slice of haggis topped with a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce.

This is a very good dish. Haggis pakora is excellent too, if you like your cuisine even more fusion-style.

Well… yeah, if you normally add liver to your meatloaf…

If you really, really, really hate liver and can’t abide it even in small amounts in other things you will probably not like haggis. But I applaud your willingness to try it.

You can always ask to try a spoonful.

I tried it for the first time at a Robert Burns night, and had the option to try just a taste first (as it happens, I liked it - sometimes I like liver things and sometimes I don’t). It is more of a sausage type flavor rather than the straight organ meat taste (and it usually contains other organ meats as well) and at the least the ones I have are about half oatmeal and other stuff. I agree with another poster that there is a bit of a liverwurst aura about it, but it’s not that, either.

Haggis is one of those things people tend to have strong opinions about, so I think you’ll get some credit for at least trying it, even if you find you don’t like it. A lot depends on the context in which you have the opportunity to have it.

Haggis does vary quite a bit depending on what is actually in it.

I’d say get there, order it from a place the locals recommend, and go for it.

I don’t remember thinking the Haggis I’ve had overly tasted like liver.

I was fortunate enough to spend a week in Scotland last summer and had haggis with most of my meals there. I found it very rich with a mellow, savory flavor. I really didn’t notice liver. I would recommend it to anyone.

Just order it. What’s another £5 or £10 in the total cost of the trip?

That’s pretty much how I would describe it, too (I had it once, about 20 years ago). It reminded me of a rich stuffing.

I’ve had it as a side with breakfast when I was over there and some “fried haggis balls” at a pub. I can’t stand liver and I liked haggis just fine. Just a meaty kind of oatmeal patty.

I haven’t had fresh haggis, but I’ve had canned haggis and I found it to be a lot like chopped liver in flavor and texture. I liked it.

I don’t like beef liver either, but I love haggis. Maybe it’s the lamb liver thing.

Quite often you can get haggis as a starter when you’re having a meal, especially in the more tourist friendly places. Maybe not served traditionally - for instance I had haggis spring rolls as a starter about a week ago at a local restaurant - but you’d get to try it without getting a full serving as a main dish.

Yes, haggis bonbons with a mustard mayonnaise are a frequent hors d’oevre. I’ve had diced haggis with green salad and poached egg as a starter.