Mollag is a Manx word, and for those of you who don’t know Manx is the language spoken on the Isle of Man, an island situated between Cumbria/Scotland and Northern Ireland in the Irish Sea. Mollag is the local name given to a round fishing float, or larger round buoy from a boat or fishing net used in the waters around the Isle of Man. The size and shape of a ‘mollag’ is what obviously gave rise to the name of the Manx Haggis, this dish is eaten all year round, but it was also traditionally fried and served at breakfast on Christmas Day morning.
Do you need to have nerves of steel to make this recipe and eat it? Using good quality offal is no different to using a good quality cut of meat. It really is very tasty, and you should not be put off from making it. Your guests or family will love it, just don’t tell them what was in it until after the meal – serve it with steamed seasonal vegetables and a lamb gravy.
In recent years, the Anglo-Manx dialect has almost disappeared in the face of increasing immigration and cultural influence from the mainland UK. Only a few original words remain in general use now. However, below is the original recipe for Mollag written out in Manx, and to help celebrate the Manx Language we are bringing this recipe front and centre, and we hope that you will tell your guests that this is a Mollag and not a Haggis.
PRINJEIG. (Bee Blastal Shenn Vannin.)
Fow kione, aane, cree, scowanyn, as prinjeig keyrragh voish yn feilleyder eu. Glen ad dy- mie. Broie cooidjagh yn kione, aane, cree as scowanyn dys bee meigh. Gow yn eill jeh’n chione, as giarrey ooilley dy-myn cooidjagh lesh unishyn, pibbyr as sollan rere yn blas- tynys eu. Cur stiagh began lane-duirn dy veinn-chorkey garroo (S’mie lesh sleih ennagh puddaseyn giarrit feer thanney currit stiagh aynjee reesht). Jean mastey ooilley dy- mie cooidjagh, as whaaley seose ayns y phrin- jeig. Kiangle seose dy-chionn ayns aanrit as broie son three ny kiare dy ooryn. Cur lesh dys y voayrd cheh lesh puddaseyn broit. Frea- yll yn awree jeh’n chied broie son ny puddaseyn. Foddee eh ve eeit lesh arran as eeym myrgeddin.
HAGGIS. (An old Manx Savoury Dish.)
Get a sheep’s head, liver, heart, and lights from your butcher. Clean them well. Boil together the head, liver, heart and lights until they be tender. Take the meat of the head and chop all finely together with onions, pepper and salt according to taste. Put in a few handfuls of coarse oatmeal. (Some people like potatoes cut very thin put in it also.) Mix all well together and sew up in haggis. Tie up tightly in a cloth and boil for 3 or 4 hours. Serve up hot with boiled potatoes. Save the gravy of the first boiling for the potatoes. It may also be served cold with bread and butter.
Mollag (Manx Haggis) Recipe
Give your local butcher a few days notice to get you all the ingredients you want. The only alteration made to this traditional ingredient list is the omission of the meat from the sheep’s head, in favour of lamb mince, (but you can easily boil a sheep’s head and strip the meat off it, if you order one). We have given two ways to cook the Mollag, one by boiling it in the traditional sheep stomach, the other by steaming it in a pudding basin.
The highest grade of lard is known as ‘leaf lard’, and it is obtained from the ‘flare’, the fat surrounding the kidneys and loin of the pig. Ask your butcher for it when you order the lamb mince, lamb heart and lamb liver. To save time you can ask your butcher to trim and mince together the lamb meat, heart and liver for you.
- 1 kg Potatoes (diced)
- 500g Onions (diced)
- 500g Mince Lamb
- 300g Lamb Liver (trimmed and minced)
- 1 Lamb Heart (trimmed and minced)
- 160g Leaf Lard
- 120g Groats (Rolled Oats)
- 2 tsp Fine Sea Salt
- 2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 1 sheep’s stomach
- 1 sheep’s head (boiled, and the meat stripped off)
Note: We give the recipe method for steaming the haggis in a pudding basin for convenience as well, but for authenticity you will need 1 sheep stomach, ask your butcher in advance for this. The day before you must clean it thoroughly, scald it in hot water, turn it inside out and soak it overnight in cold salted water. In the morning rinse the stomach under cold running water for a few minutes.
Before starting: trim and mince the lamb heart and liver (if your butcher has not already done so for you) – dice the potatoes and onions small and melt the leaf lard in a saucepan.
Place the diced potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling salted water. Boil for no more than ten minutes or until soft. Drain and tip into a very large mixing bowl.
In a frying pan add some of the rendered (melted) leaf lard. Fry the onions on a gentle heat for about 8 minutes, or until soft, and empty into the mixing bowl with the potatoes. Return the frying pan to the heat and add in more leaf lard.
Fry in small batches the lamb mince, the minced heart and the minced liver. Season each of the batches with some fine sea salt and ground black pepper and only fry until coloured. Add each cooked batch to the mixing bowl with the potatoes and onions.
Finally into the mixing bowl add the rolled oats and any remaining leaf lard. Mix everything together, and add a tablespoon or two of water to loosen the mixture if needed (it should not be very loose). Make sure the mixture is evenly mixed with no one ingredient clumping together. Then pack it into the cooking container very tightly.
Steaming In A Pudding Basin:
Pack the Mollag mixture into a large, lightly greased pudding basin, cover it with a double sheet of silicone paper (baking parchment) and a sheet of foil and tie it securely with string (you might need to borrow someone’s finger for this). It’s also a good idea to tie a piece of string across the top to make a handle to lift the pudding in and out of the steamer.
Stand the pudding basin in a steamer or in a deep saucepan on an upturned heatproof plate to raise it off the bottom. Pour in boiling water to come half way up the side of the pudding basin or fill under the steamer in the water compartment. Bring up to a medium simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid, and steam for 3 to 4 hours, topping up with boiling water from time to time – for the last two hours turn down to a low simmer.
Boiling In A Sheep’s Stomach:
Spoon the Mollag mixture into the sheep’s stomach, turned back the right way after soaking it the night before, so it’s just over half full and packed in very tight. Sew up the stomach with strong thread and prick a couple of times with a small pin so it doesn’t explode while cooking. Put the mollag in a pan of boiling water (enough to cover it) and cook for 3 to 4 hours without a lid, on a medium simmer – for the last two hours turn down to a low simmer. Keep adding more water to keep the mollag covered – it is important to keep checking the level of the water so that it does not run dry.
Serving And Eating:
When the Mollag has been steamed or fully boiled, let it get quite cold and store it in the fridge for the next morning.
On the morning of serving, turn out the Mollag (Manx Haggis), from the container you used, (stomach or basin) slice it and re-heat in a frying pan with a little leaf lard. Or eat it as an evening meal, fried in slices and served with seasonal vegetables and a lamb gravy. Note: It might not slice easily and remain a little mince like, but this is fine and quite traditional.