Mi comida es tu comida, as the hungry polyglot once said.
This is a very serious blog post because I am a very serious writer. Serious writers like me use proverbs which preface their every piece. Serious writers talk in profound, cerebral tones, which are designed to make the reader – and writer, in part – feel clever. And serious writers discuss serious topics, such as fusion food and its intercultural significance. Innit.
I’ll give you a concrete example. A serious food writer such as myself might regard something like a Pot Noodle as a physical metaphor for the continuous blurring of geopolitical, socioeconomic and cultural boundaries. They might fixate upon how combining the western values of easy convenience with the eastern concept of a hearty and comforting noodle broth allows us to celebrate the triumph of culinary cross-pollination, and ultimately discover that by combining techniques, ingredients and processes, we can create something extraordinary.
Like I said, it’s a serious business.
So, in the philosophical image of the Pot Noodle, I am celebrating the famously harmonious unity between our glorious nations of England and Scotland, by manifesting the newest fusion food on the block: HNTSP.
For TOYWLA (those of you who like acronyms), HNTSP is Haggis, Neeps & Tatties Shepherd’s Pie. And it’s exactly what you think it is. Yep, the haggis stands in for the lamb mince, then the neeps (that’s a swede for you English folk) and tatties get pulverised with obscene quantities of butter and black pepper, transforming into a savoury golden topping when baked.
It’s a great way of mixing it up for dinner, and trying something familiar yet different – whatever end of the spectrum you’re viewing it from. To me, it’s haggis, neeps and tatties topologically reshuffled, but to you it might be shepherd’s pie with a slightly different set of ingredients.
However you may think of it, it’s truly delicious. So do have a recipe:
- 300-400g of Haggis
- 1/2 a large Neep, peeled
- 4 large potatoes, peeled
- 2 medium white onions
- A largeish carrot
- Black Pepper
Special equipment: Stick blender (optional)
Chop the onions and carrots into medium-fine dice and fry them off in a pan with a small amount of oil, salt and pepper. Once soft, add in the haggis, breaking it up with some sort of utensil in the pan. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let the haggis get to know the onions and carrots for a bit, stirring occasionally as you do the rest of the stuff. Oh, and do smack the oven up to 200 degrees before you forget.
Chop your tatties into inch-by-inch cubes, and quarter your potatoes before throwing them together into some salted boiling water for 15-20 minutes or until soft to the point of knife. When soft, drain and add as much butter as you can physically bear, alongside a very generous lashing of black pepper. If you have a stick blender, puree the neeps and tatties together, or mash as smoothly as you can with a potato masher.
By now your haggis should have some nicely golden crispy bits from the bottom of the pan and should be soft and cooked through all over. Season it with a little fresh thyme leaves if you have them, before scooping it into a cake tin and topping with the smooth mash. Score with a fork and bake for 20 minutes or until the topping goes crispy.
Serve with either whisky cream sauce, or thick brown gravy depending on what side you’re supporting in the Six Nations.