Nov 13 2015

Quarter Dane

So as part of my recent Voir Dire I had to fill out a form that asked me-

Son, have you ever been arrested

No kidding!

Now I suppose that’s a reasonable enough question since it might disclose your attitude toward police testimony (they’re professional liars and yes, I have taken the steel bracelet ride), but what surprised me is that after I got rejected the plaintiff’s lawyer asked me not about my answer to that, or even my reply to race (Homo Sapiens and it’s yours too unless you’re Homo Neanderthalis in which case I’d like your name and address so I can send government agents to track you down and subject you to what are undoubtedly painful ‘medical’ experiments), but my reply to the ethnicity question which was “Quarter Dane”.

Quarter Dane?

Grandpa came over on a boat.

What’s the rest?

Scot, German.

Really, it’s not that uncommon in certain parts of Michigan. While I proudly embrace my Viking heritage by piracy, pillage (what does that even mean?), and plunder I mostly acknowledge my Scots roots by drinking lots of it and admiring their appalling cuisine from afar.

Traditional haggis could soon be back on US menus amid rethink of lamb imports
by Severin Carrell, The Guardian
Friday 13 November 2015 14.16 GMT

For nearly 45 years, any Scottish emigré living in the US who wanted to eat a traditionally produced haggis on Burns Night had to resort to cross-border smuggling or a long flight home. But now their wait may be over: the US agriculture authorities have begun the process of ending a longstanding ban on Scotch lamb.

Haggis imports stopped in 1971 when the US introduced a ban on sheep lungs, one of the ingredients of authentic haggis. Imports of all UK beef and lamb were stopped in 1989 in after the BSE outbreak, so millions of Americans who celebrate Burns Night each January have had to rely on inferior local haggis.

Lochead conceded that the recipe would have to be altered, because the US did not plan to lift the ban on sheep lungs. He said that the US animal and plant health inspection service told his delegation that it plans to publish draft rules in 2016 setting out how the lamb ban would be lifted.

“Lamb lungs will still be banned but haggis does not need that part of the sheep as heart, kidneys etc [are] acceptable for recipes, most producers would agree.”

There are apocryphal tales of Scots smuggling a tightly sealed sheep’s bladder in their luggage through customs at US airports, risking arrest, seizure and deportation.

Haggis (beef liver will not do)-

Personally, I like a haggis which is spicy from pepper and herbs, with a lingering flavour on the palate after it has been consumed.

One cookery book I came across suggested that the best way to get haggis was to buy it in the butcher’s shop! Certainly, these days haggis can even be ordered online (see the Rampant Scotland Food Links). Finding a butcher who can supply sheep’s heart, lungs and liver may not be easy although nowadays beef bung (intestine) is used instead of sheep’s stomach. Since this is used also to make European sausage, they are out there for other nationalities as well.


Set of sheep’s heart, lungs and liver (cleaned by a butcher)
One beef bung
3 cups finely chopped suet
One cup medium ground oatmeal
Two medium onions, finely chopped
One cup beef stock
One teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
One teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon mace

Trim off any excess fat and sinew from the sheep’s intestine and, if present, discard the windpipe. Place in a large pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for an hour or possibly longer to ensure that they are all tender. Drain and cool.

Some chefs toast the oatmeal in an oven until it is thoroughly dried out (but not browned or burnt!)

Finely chop the meat and combine in a large bowl with the suet, oatmeal, finely chopped onions, beef stock, salt, pepper, nutmeg and mace. Make sure the ingredients are mixed well. Stuff the meat and spices mixture into the beef bung which should be over half full. Then press out the air and tie the open ends tightly with string. Make sure that you leave room for the mixture to expand or else it may burst while cooking. If it looks as though it may do that, prick with a sharp needle to reduce the pressure.

Place in a pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and immediately reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for three hours. Avoid boiling vigorously to avoid bursting the skin.

Serve hot with “champit tatties and bashit neeps” (mashed/creamed potato and turnip/swede). For added flavour, you can add some nutmeg to the potatoes and allspice to the turnip/swede. Some people like to pour a little whiskey over their haggis – Drambuie is even better! Don’t go overboard on this or you’ll make the haggis cold. At Burns Suppers, the haggis is traditionally piped in and Burns’ “Address to the Haggis” recited over it.

1 ping

Comments have been disabled.