Sports

Haggis and pipes on Robbie Burns menu

Starting late December/early January, Bruce Roane’s cellphone earpiece only comes off when he sleeps.

It’s his busy season when he takes dozens of orders from across B.C. to make “tons and tons” of haggis for Christmas tables and banquets held to honour Robbie Burns, Scotland’s national poet.

But the Maillardville resident admits when his culinary business gets going, it can be a hard grind — especially on his body.

His back, neck and shoulders hurt so bad that he sometimes has to lie on his side at night. His arms also stiffen and his fingers swell to the size of sausages from the double-knotting.

Last year, Roane worked 25 days straight — up to 12 hours a day — to keep up with demand.

“People have no idea the amount of work involved with haggis,” he said, shaking his head.

Still, as a third generation meat-cutter and a lover of All Things Scottish (he’s a former competitive pipe band drummer), he’s happy to continue the tradition.

Roane, who regularly works at a Save-On-Foods in Burnaby, became one of B.C.’s top haggis producers in 2001 after the Auld Scottish Larder on Hastings Street closed.

His recipe comes from a man who used to work for his dad.

To prepare the Scottish treat, Roane cooks New Zealand-imported lamb hearts and livers.

The onions are cleaned, the suet is readied and the seasoning mix is ground with oats.

Then, the beef caps — or casings — are soaked and stretched before being loaded with the ingredients, pounded into shape and double-tied with a string.

Next, the haggis is simmered for 20 minutes and cooled before being boxed and delivered.

In 12 hours, Roane and his worker can create about 500 pounds of the dish.

For the Jan. 26 Robbie Burns fundraising dinner in Coquitlam hosted by the SFU & Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Bands, Roane reckons he will supply about 115 pounds of haggis for 400 guests.

During January, he wil also supply for 15 other banquets — including for the Maple Ridge pipe band, and the Vancouver and Delta police departments — and 13 retail shops around the Lower Mainland, including Port Coquitlam’s Meridian Meats.

The best kind of haggis is dry — not pasty, he said — and is served as a side dish to roast beef, along with neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes).

But Roane acknowledges the dish doesn’t appeal to everyone.

“You hear the stories all the time,” he said. “But, to tell you the truth, if you put it on someone’s plate and didn’t tell them it was haggis, they would probably eat it.”

jwarren@tricitynews.com

Robbie Burns events

• The SFU & Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Bands’ annual Robbie Burns fundraising dinner, which includes roast beef, is Friday, Jan. 26 at the Executive Hotel (405 North Rd., Coquitlam) at 7 p.m.

Tickets at $70 can be bought online at www.sfupipeband.com, by phone at 604-793-9747 or leave an e-mail message with mclatchy@telus.net. Tables of 10 to 12 are available for reservation;

• The Evergreen Cultural Centre (1205 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam) hosts its 5th annual Robbie Burns cabaret featuring Blackthorn, Tartan Pride Highland Dancers, piper Jim McWilliams and emcee Wil Stirling. Tickets at $25/$20 for the Saturday, Jan. 27 show at 8 p.m. can be bought online at www.evergreenculturalcentre.ca or call 604-927-6555.

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