Friday, 18 July 2014

Haggis and Neep Cheeseburgers with Ayrshire Tattie Wedges

Haggis and neep cheeseburgers with Ayrshire tattie wedges

Scotland is no different from the majority of the Western world in that the big American burger chains have more than established their presence. Burgers and fries have become the natural fast food choice for many young (and not so young!) Scots, leading potentially to short, medium and long term nutritional deficiencies and more serious health issues. So I started thinking about how I could come up with a similar creation, give it a uniquely Scottish twist, make it hopefully equally appealing and above all, ensure it provided greater nutritional value.

Ayrshire tatties, haggis and neep

Haggis is almost certainly the foodstuff most people outside Scotland will think of when they think of Scottish food. Perceptions incredibly still abound of furry little creatures in mini-kilts scurrying around the Highlands like ferrets on amphetamines. The reality is of course very different - as is the extent of the popularity of haggis in Scotland - but what better to employ when looking to create an authentically Scottish burger recipe?

Haggis, tatties (potatoes) and neeps (Swede turnip/rutabaga) is a dish mostly associated with Burns' Night in Scotland each year. That is a great shame as there are so many tasty haggis recipes and ways in which you can serve haggis (with or without the tatties and neeps) at any time of year. I have on this occasion used haggis, neeps and new season Ayrshire tatties, a welcome addition to Scottish shops and supermarkets in the summer months. If you are making this dish when they are out of season, you can of course use your tatties of choice. I am also using MacSween haggis, which importantly is one that contains no artificial flavours or colours. In fact, every single main ingredient in this recipe was grown/produced in Scotland.

Parboiling Ayrshire tattie wedges

Ingredients (Serves Two)

Ayrshire new potatoes, medium size, as required
1 225g (1/2 pound) Macsween haggis
1/2 small to medium turnip/neep
Little bit of Scottish unsalted butter
Salt and white pepper
1 tablespoon fresh breadcrumbs
Flour for dusting
Vegetable oil for frying
75g (3 ounces) approximately Scottish cheddar cheese, sliced
4 leaves fresh, crisp, Scottish iceberg lettuce
4 Scottish morning rolls
Malt vinegar

Neep is peeled and chopped


Wash and if necessary scrub the Ayrshire tatties but they shouldn't be peeled. Cut them in half lengthways and put them in to a pot of cold, salted water. Bring the water to a simmer for fifteen minutes.

Neep pieces are boiled in salted water

Peel and roughly chop the half turnip. Add it to a separate pot of cold, salted water and bring to a simmer until the turnip pieces are just softened (usually fifteen to twenty minutes).

Ayrshire tattie wedges ready for chilling

Drain the tattie wedges through a colander and lay them in a single layer in a plastic dish. Put the dish in to your fridge for an hour to chill and dry out the wedges.

Neeps are mashed with Scottish butter

Drain the softened turnip chunks and return them to the empty pot. It is vital that you then give them five minutes to steam off before mashing. This gets rid of the excess water/moisture. If you don't do this, your mash will be soggy and this will affect the texture of your burgers. Add a little bit of butter and white pepper to the turnip and mash with a hand masher until smooth.

Haggis is cut open

Remove the outer wrapper from the haggis and cut open the inner sleeve as shown above. Squeeze out all the haggis meat in to the pot with the mashed turnip.

Cold haggis meat is added to mashed neeps

Add the breadcrumbs to the pot with the haggis and neeps. Get your sleeves rolled up and use your hands to evenly combine, making sure you have a fairly dry but still workable burger mix. If the mix is too wet, the burgers will sputter hot fat in the pan and probably start to fall apart.

Haggis, neeps and breadcrumbs burger combination

Divide the haggis and neep burger mix in to four equal portions and roll in to balls. Flatten between the palms of your hands in each instance to form burger patties around three-quarters of an inch (just under 2cm) thick.

Haggis and neep burger patties

Dust the bottom of a second plastic dish with flour (to prevent the burgers sticking) and lay them in before refrigerating for half an hour to an hour to let the patties firm up.

Starting to fry haggis and neep burgers

Bring a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil up to a medium heat in a non-stick frying pan and add the burgers to fry. They will take about five minutes each side and should ideally only be turned once.

Start your deep fryer preheating to a fairly high setting. I prefer to use a deep frying pan of oil but that's purely personal preference.

Deep frying Ayrshire tattie wedges

When the burgers have been turned, carefully add the tattie wedges to the deep fat fryer to fry for about five minutes. They are ready when they are beautifully golden in colour.

Frying haggis and neep burgers on second side

While the burgers and wedges are frying, you can use the time to wash and shred the lettuce. Cut open the rolls and divide the shredded lettuce evenly between the bottom halves.

Shredded iceberg lettuce is laid on bread roll bases

When the burgers are just about done, lay the cheese slices in place as shown to melt.

Scottish cheddar cheese is laid on haggis and neep burgers

Lift the tattie wedges to a plate covered with kitchen paper to drain. Season with salt and malt vinegar.

Ayrshire tattie wedges are drained on kitchen paper

Carefully lift the cheeseburgers on to the lettuce beds on the rolls. Place the tops on the rolls, plate the potato wedges and tuck in to this entirely Scottish answer to a burger and fries.

Haggis and neep cheeseburgers are laid on lettuce beds on rolls

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