This is a story of haggis and delight.
But I repeat myself.
One of the last pre-pandemic things I did for this website was host a Burns dinner for unsuspecting friends. That’s when you serve a large haggis feast to honor the poet Robert Burns’s January 25 birthday. Fairly without warning, we found out that haggis is a certifiable hit. It’s just good-good, and it’s one of my life’s minor missions to badger other people into trying it.
In the interim, another obsession reared its head—making the perfect tavern-style thin crust pizza—and our mission this fine Burns Night is to smash them together like two favorite action figures. And what better cuisine to pizzafy than the endless mad science of Scots food?
Europe has spent centuries carefully honing culinary identities that blend the elevated and the traditional. Scotland, in response, has more or less said “get tae fuck!” I reached out to my friend (well, Twitter friend) Paul Grant, who runs a beer shop and delivery service in Kirkcaldy and is thus at least partly responsible for most of the more well-publicized chip shop manifestations. He was not only unfazed by the idea of haggis pizza, he already kind of guessed what I was after.
“I knew a haggis pizza question was coming,” he texted. “I actually went hunting for your haggis recipe and that is the sort of haggis I’d want. Looser and more malleable. To me, a good haggis should have that crumble.”
So Scotland’s cool and Italy’s already mad at me. ONWARD!
Thanks to the dueling obsessions, we already have a pizza recipe to start with, and we’ve got a haggis recipe that you can send your watch by. But what else should go on this one? Tatties and neeps (potatoes and swede) seems to ask a bit much of our thin-crust format.
“No one needs more carbs on pizza,” Paul said, momentarily forgetting he was talking to an American. “I’d do mushrooms or chili flakes, or something to add texture.” At one point he used the word “stodge” so I would know he was serious. Yes SIR.
Mushrooms are usually a no-brainer for me. The slow-burn Aleppo pepper won the chili taste-off, with the earthier notes resonating with the star topping and the figgy dark-fruit flavors providing a nice contrast. From there, we managed to add potatoes without loading the slices down and parsley for the same reason the Scots do to haggis – really pops against all that brown!
To get an extra-crispy finish on the dough, we’re going to “cold cure” the dough. This involves rolling it out fully the night before, docking, placing on nonstick parchment, and leaving uncovered in the fridge overnight. It’s an absolute game changer for tavern-style pies, and entirely worth the game of condiment Tetris you need to play to get the real estate.
- 1 tavern-style pizza dough, rolled out to 14”, docked and cured overnight uncovered in the fridge
- 5 oz. pizza sauce
- 2 oz. grated parmesan
- 5 oz. grated full-fat low-moisture mozzarella
- 8 oz. haggis, removed from casing
- 3 oz. mixed mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
- Aleppo chili flakes, to top
- Fried potato sticks, to top
- Chopped curly parsley, to top
- Preheat the oven, fixed with a baking stone or steel, at 550 for one hour prior to baking.
- Lightly dust a wooden pizza peel with cornmeal or flour, remove the parchment from the dough, and lay across the peel.
- Spread the sauce evenly to the edges with a ladle and sprinkle on half the parmesan.
- Add the mozzarella, evenly portion the haggis across the pizza, add the mushrooms, and then the rest of the parmesan.
- Slide onto the stone or steel and bake 10-12 minutes, rotating the pizza on the stone after 8 minutes.
- Remove from oven, then top with the chili, potato sticks, and chopped parsley.
- Cut into squares (or triangles if you’re weird) and enjoy.
If I learned one thing from the original Haggising of my inner circle, it’s that sometimes people need a little push. A little more crust between eater and haggis, additional canvas for more ingredients, and we can fancy it up enough for even the most circumspect. And hey, if you wanted to, say, batter and fry a slice, this would probably stand up to the assignment. But I get ahead of myself.
So here’s more of everything, and a new dough recipe to boot. Grab the least-battered of your quarter sheet pans and let’s do this.
- 275 grams bread flour
- 15 grams salt
- 1.5 grams instant yeast
- 185 grams cold water
- 5 grams olive oil
- Add the dry ingredients to your food processor fitted with a dough blade and pulse to mix. Add the water and olive oil and process on the dough setting until no dry flour remains. Turn off and rest for 20 minutes.
- Loosen dough from blade and process until the dough forms a ball and rides about the blade. Then count to 30 and turn off the processor.
- Grease a quarter sheet pan with olive oil, bacon fat, or shortening.
- Place the dough in the pan and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature for an hour, then for a day or two in the fridge.
- 1 oz. parmesan
- 5 oz. shredded mozzarella
- 6 oz. haggis, removed from casing
- Mashed potatoes, to top
- Mashed rutabaga, to top
- Whiskey cream sauce, to top
- Sauteed buttered cabbage, to top
- Aleppo chili flakes, to top
- Remove the dough from the fridge at least two hours before you want to bake. Let relax into the pan and come to temperature. Eventually, press out (never pull) with wet hands to bring it to the edges of the pan. If it’s springing back, give it a five-minute rest and try again. Carefully re-cover.
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
- Carefully remove the plastic wrap and par-bake the dough 8-10 minutes, until it just begins to take on color.
- Remove from the oven, top with the pizza sauce, parm, mozzarella, and haggis. Leave some margin on the edges. Dot the space left with your mashed starches. Pipe them on to feel like a real fancy bastard.
- Bake 10-15 additional minutes, until the cheese is done to your liking. I find the brownness of pizza cheese to be a very personal thing. Remove from the oven, slide the pizza onto a rack so it stays crispy, and let cool for one minute. Add the cabbage and cream sauce. Cut into slices and serve.