Saturday, April 03, 2010

Clapshot or Minus the Haggis

My husband does the grocery shopping. He likes his daily trip to the market and enjoys bringing home the bacon. Like a contest on one of the TV cooking shows, he brings home stuff and I figure out what to do with it. Sometimes the combinations he selects are splendid; other times more challenging. Today in a surge of Scottishness, he bought chicken thighs and rutabagas. Hmmm.

We eat rutabaga mashed with a little cream every once in a while but I don't know much about it. I thought I'd look up it's CV.

The rutabaga is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip. Prior to pumpkins being readily available in the UK and Ireland, swedes, as they were called were hollowed out and carved with faces to make lanterns for Halloween. Often called “jack o’lanterns”, or “tumshie lanterns” in Scotland, they were the ancient symbol of a damned soul!

In Germany, they were the food of last resort in the winter of 1916-17. Large parts of the population lived on rutabaga and little else. They came to be known as famine food and have still retained this bad reputation. In France, they are enjoying a moment in the sun and being used in inventive ways - such as cream soups, french fries and the like. The Scots have traditionally used them with potatoes in something called Clapshot which is originally from the Orkney Islands. They serve it with all kinds of foods, but it is a traditional accompaniment to the dreaded Haggis.

A mouth-watering excerpt from a recipe for Haggis and Clapshot:

"To serve, slit the haggis down the middle and spoon the gushing entrails on to warmed plates with the clapshot and a wee dram or two." From a recipe by Sue Lawrence in Scots Cooking

A wee dram?? - are they kidding. I'd have to drink until brain-dead and starve for a week, before "gushing entrails" had any appeal.

Even though Clapshot sounds suspiciously like a venereal disease, we'll try it minus the Haggis.

The thighs we can bake with onions, a bit of wine and some mushrooms I have left over.

A Haggis-inspired poem:

What's on the menu 
at this special venue?
 He asked his dear wife
at the risk of his life.

"It's 'Minus the Haggis'
I don't want to gag us."
 She said with a choke
back to her Scottish bloke.

What wine to drink with the Clapshot?

Postscript: The Clapshot was excellent - not a bit disease-like and the grilled chicken thighs with mushrooms, while not an optimum accompaniment, were serviceable - particularly when you keep in mind the gushing entrails they replaced on the plate. 


  1. Clapshot sounds suspiciously like crapshoot!- Are rutabagas and turnips the same thing? If so, I like them- especially raw. What did you do to get a husband who would do the grocery shopping for you? I might be able to put up with everything else if someone would do the grocery shopping. My most dreaded task. Wait a minute-- I'd probably have to cook what he brought home!!!!!

  2. P.S. Love the poem!!