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Nettle Haggis

Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cumbria, Durham, Northumberland

A porridge of nettles boiled with bacon fat and oatmeal, served with bacon.

Mentioned in 'Good Things in England' by Florence White (White 1932) and many news reports of the 1920's to 1950's.

Original Receipt in the 'Evening Telegraph', Monday 21 April 1941

Young leaves of nettles gathered in spring are excellent food, rich in vitamins A and C. Try this way of cooking them.
Pick and wash about 1 ½ lb. of young nettle tops. Take tablespoonfuls of medium oatmeal, a few trimmings of bacon and some diced rinds of bacon. Fry the finely chopped bacon trimmings and bacon rinds quite slowly until crisp. Cook the nettles in a very little boiling salted water, then strain them and chop the strained nettles on a board. Make up the nettle boilings to pint of liquid with water. Place the liquor in a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Sprinkle in the oatmeal, stirring all the time. When fully cooked and of a porridge consistency add the finely chopped nettles and season well with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg. Serve very hot with the crisped bacon fragments sprinkled over it.

A recent version in 'Food for Free' (1972) by Richard Mabey adds leeks;

The original source of this receipt isn't known, possibly from 'Food for Free' (1972) by Richard Mabey. Can you help?

Nettle Haggis

4 Medium sized leeks and/or 1 - 3 onions
1-6 Cloves of garlic depending on preference
About a two dozen nettle tops or young nettles (or more) pureed (partially cooked for about 5-10 mins and chopped)
A large bowl of partially cooked oatmeal - This will determine the size of the haggis
Sage, Thyme, Black-pepper to taste
Chopped Fried bacon

Mix all the ingredients together and pack into a muslin bag or clean tea towel and tie the ends. Boil for about an hour and serve with gravy. This recipe is adapted from Richard Mabey's, 'food for free'. I have cooked this without the bacon using a tea towel. The end result was slightly sloppy but after placing in the fridge overnight it became a lot more solid and was very tasty (before and after). If you're going to omit the bacon you may want to add some butter or margarine, or even some fried aubergine .

See: Haggis
For other receipts, see nettles...

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