After a snap poll of Standard Issue staffers, we came to the conclusion everyone has a signature dish they’re willing to brag about. For Dotty Winters, Burns Night isn’t Burns Night without this little belter.
Name: Dotty Winters
I Make the Best: Haggis Nachos
Fuller dish description: I’ve never been good at living up to those terrible Scottish stereotypes. I love vegetables, rarely use heroin and I insist on putting a cocktail brolly in my Buckfast.
I also have a complicated relationship with the traditional foods of my homeland; my handbag is rarely without an emergency packet of oatcakes, but porridge makes me boak, and I didn’t discover the wonder of haggis until I was in my late 20s.
I love Scotland, but I’ve not lived there for a long while; you might say that seas between us broad have roared since days of long ago.
Like all Scottish people who live away from Scotland I’ve taken to celebrating Burns Night and enjoying the sound of a set of pipes that’s sweetly played in tune. While I am totally on board the haggis train, I’ve never been entirely sold on the traditional accompaniments of mashed potatoes and neeps (if you aren’t familiar with neeps, they are what you get if you squeeze a Road Runner and they taste minging).
“It is traditional for women to prepare the Burns Night supper and for men to do the toasts. Fuck that, I say.”
Over the years I’ve found better ways to enjoy haggis – on toast for brekkie, with mature cheddar and ketchup in a toastie, and even instead of stuffing in roast turkey (we hae meat and we can eat, And sae the Lord be thankit).
Then, a couple of years ago, someone* on the internet introduced me to the words “haggis nachos” and it felt like someone had replaced the missing piece of tartan jigsaw in my Scottish soul.
Bonus round: I’ve scattered some Burns quotes through this piece: most are the Scottish poet Robert Burns, one is Burns from The Simpsons. Oooh and one is from The Proclaimers. See if you can spot them.
When did you first make it? As soon as I read the words “haggis nachos”, I defrosted an emergency haggis from our freezer – we have several – and we haven’t eaten haggis any other way since.
When did you realise it was the best? It’s Haggis AND nachos. There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing. I’m not even sure why you are asking this question. Next…
How often do you make it? Haggis nachos makes pretty perfect watching-a-film-in-front-of-the-fire food, but it really comes into its own on Burns Night. Sorry Scotland. Neeps and tatties followed by cranachan (a delicious but fiddly traditional Scottish dessert which features whipped cream, whisky, honey and fresh raspberries) has been replaced with this fiesta-on-a-plate rounded off with as many Tunnock’s teacakes as you can fit in your face.
Sure, I have aspirations to be a properly traditional Scot, but the best laid schemes of mice and men… etc.
“If you aren’t familiar with neeps, they are what you get if you squeeze a Road Runner, and they taste minging.”
It is traditional for women to prepare the Burns Night supper and for men to do the toasts. Fuck that, I say. Amid this mighty fuss just let me mention, The Rights of Woman merit some attention. There, I said it. I haven’t had this much pep since the night I cold-called Calvin Coolidge.
Have you ever tasted anyone else’s version of this, which had you worried? I have genuinely never seen haggis nachos on a menu anywhere, but if I did, I’d definitely order it. Because, to see [haggis nachos] was to love [haggis nachos],
Love but [haggis nachos], and love forever.
Is this the only thing you make well? The cheese and haggis toastie mentioned above is not to be sniffed at.
One decent haggis (Vegetarian haggis works just as well, as you can tell from this recipe I am no haggis purist, Desist for shame, proceed no further. God won’t accept your thanks for murder and all that). You can buy haggis online; lots of butchers stock it, or you can wait till around Burns Night and stock the freezer up for the year.)
1 finely sliced small onion
Slightly salted tortilla chips
Plenty of cheese, grated (cheese with chilli in it is good if you like a bit of extra kick)
3 or 4 finely chopped spring onions
Sliced orange or yellow pepper
Whatever accompaniments float your boat – jalapeño peppers, lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, salsa etc)
One sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie (optional)
Preheat oven to 190°C. Take all the packaging off the haggis and wrap it snugly in foil. Place the foil-wrapped haggis into a lidded saucepan with some boiling water, and boil/steam it for about half an hour.
Remove the haggis from the pan and foil, and place on a baking tray. Break the haggis up with a fork and spread it in a layer across the tray. Bake at 190°C for 20-ish minutes until the haggis starts to crisp up slightly.
Medical note: If this dish leaves your heart sair and you dare not tell, it’s probably just indigestion. Have some Gaviscon.
*If memory serves, the person who first mentioned haggis nachos within internet-earshot of me was comedian Doug Segal, to whom I say: your beauty and kindness, made tears clear my blindness and something about walking 500 miles.
Find out what our other contributors make best of all here.
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Nascent stand-up, fan of fancy words, purveyor of occasional wrongness, haphazard but enthusiastic parent, science-fan, apprentice-feminist.