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A New Lung-Free Recipe Will Finally Make Haggis Legal for Canadians

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When it comes to food and drink, Scotland is famous for its whiskey and infamous for its haggis. While plenty of people enjoy the dish in Scotland (particularly on Burns Night and during New Year's celebrations), authentic versions of haggis have been illegal to sell in both the U.S. and Canada for years. But just in time for cold winter nights, BBC News reports that a unique variety of the Scottish staple will allow haggis back on Canadian plates for the first time in almost 50 years.

Haggis is made of sheep’s “pluck"—the heart, liver, and lungs—minced with onion, oatmeal, spices, and suet, or hard beef or mutton fat. The savory pudding has been verboten in the U.S. since 1971, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture ruled that the lungs of livestock—a key component of the dish—couldn’t be used as a food ingredient. In the 1990s the U.S. also banned UK livestock imports to prevent the spread of mad cow disease, further distancing itself from haggis, according to Scotland Now. (The U.S. announced in 2016 that it had reached an agreement with the UK to lift the red-meat ban.)

Canada instated a similar lung-products ban in 1971, though it lifted its own embargo on red-meat imports from the UK in 2015. However, the bans on lungs in food products still stand in both countries, forcing haggis producers in Scotland to get creative with their recipes if they want to sell them in North America.

Macsween of Edinburgh, a Scottish meat wholesaler, has created a new, lung-free version of haggis to sell in Canada, according to The National Post. It contains sheep’s heart instead of lung, and is prepared in company facilities that have been pre-approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. “It’s as close as we can get to the original recipe using different meats, because the oats and spice mix are the same,” David Rae, Macsween’s commercial director, told the UK newspaper i.

Some food providers have criticized the move, claiming that sheep’s lungs give haggis its fluffy texture and nutty flavor. Others say that the pudding contains lots of ingredients, and that a few missing ones won’t impact its overall taste, the CBC reports.

So far, it’s unclear whether lung-free haggis will also be making its way stateside. But in Canada, the move is expected to rake in big bucks. Scotland’s food and drink exports to Canada are now worth more than $154 million, according to the Toronto Star.

There's also reason to hope that one day, Americans will be able to eat real, authentic Scottish haggis again, lungs and all. The USDA has been hinting about lifting the ban since 2015, though the regulatory change has yet to materialize.

[h/t BBC News]

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Let Alexa Help You Brine a Turkey This Thanksgiving
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There’s a reason most of us only cook turkey once a year: The bird is notoriously easy to overcook. You could rely on gravy and cranberry sauce to salvage your dried-out turkey this Thanksgiving, or you could follow cooking advice from the experts.

Brining a turkey is the best way to guarantee it retains its moisture after hours in the oven. The process is also time-consuming, so do yourself a favor this year and let Alexa be your sous chef.

“Morton Brine Time” is a new skill from the cloud-based home assistant. If you own an Amazon Echo you can download it for free by going online or by asking Alexa to enable it. Once it’s set up, start asking Alexa for brining tips and step-by-step recipes customized to the size of your turkey. Two recipes were developed by Richard Blais, the celebrity chef and restaurateur best known for his Top Chef win and Food Network appearances.

Whether you go for a wet brine (soaking your turkey in water, salt, sugar, and spices) or a dry one (just salt and spices), the process isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. And the knowledge that your bird will come out succulent and juicy will definitely take some stress out of the holiday.

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Why Your Traditional Thanksgiving Should Include Oysters
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If you want to throw a really traditional Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll need oysters. The mollusks would have been featured prominently on the holiday tables of the earliest American settlers—even if that beloved Thanksgiving turkey probably wasn’t. At the time, oysters were supremely popular additions to the table for coastal colonial settlements, though in some cases, they were seen as a hardship food more than a delicacy.

For one thing, oysters were an easy food source. In the Chesapeake Bay, they were so plentiful in the 17th and 18th centuries that ships had to be careful not to run aground on oyster beds, and one visitor in 1702 wrote that they could be pulled up with only a pair of tongs. Native Americans, too, ate plenty of oysters, occasionally harvesting them and feasting for days.

Early colonists ate so many oysters that the population of the mollusks dwindled to dangerously low levels by the 19th century, according to curriculum prepared by a Gettysburg University history professor. In these years, scarcity turned oysters into a luxury item for the wealthy, a situation that prevailed until the 1880s, when oyster production skyrocketed and prices dropped again [PDF]. If you lived on the coast, though, you were probably still downing the bivalves.

Beginning in the 1840s, canning and railroads brought the mollusks to inland regions. According to 1985's The Celebrated Oysterhouse Cookbook, the middle of the 19th century found America in a “great oyster craze,” where “no evening of pleasure was complete without oysters; no host worthy of the name failed to serve 'the luscious bivalves,' as they were actually called, to his guests.”

At the turn of the century, oysters were still a Thanksgiving standard. They were on Thanksgiving menus everywhere from New York City's Plaza Hotel to train dining cars, in the form of soup, cocktails, and stuffing.

In 1954, the Fish and Wildlife Service tried to promote Thanksgiving oysters to widespread use once again. They sent out a press release [PDF], entitled “Oysters—a Thanksgiving Tradition,” which included the agency’s own recipes for cocktail sauce, oyster bisque, and oyster stuffing.

In the modern era, Thanksgiving oysters have remained most popular in the South. Oyster stuffing is a classic dish in New Orleans, and chefs like Emeril Lagasse have their own signature recipes. If you’re not looking for a celebrity chef’s recipe, perhaps you want to try the Fish and Wildlife Service’s? Check it out below.

Oyster Stuffing

INGREDIENTS

1 pint oysters
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup butter
4 cups day-old bread cubes
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
Dash poultry seasoning
Dash pepper

Drain oysters, saving liquor, and chop. Cook celery and onion in butter until tender. Combine oysters, cooked vegetables, bread cubes, and seasonings, and mix thoroughly. If stuffing seems dry, moisten with oyster liquor. Makes enough for a four-pound chicken.

If you’re using a turkey, the FWS advises that the recipe above provides enough for about every five pounds of bird, so multiply accordingly.

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