“Whenever an animal was butchered, none of it was ever wasted. The hide was put aside to be cured for leather, the meat kept for the table, then the internal organs, head, trotters and offal were all used and indeed relished for a variety of local delicacies, such as head-cheese and maragan.” 1
Marag Gheal/White pudding has long been a favourite dish of our Gaelic ancestors. The tradition can be traced back from Scotland and is still made today in Nova Scotia. You may be asking yourself what is marag gheal? Marag gheal is similar to sausage but is often larger in size. It was common for this dish to be made during ‘slaughter season’, which usually occurred around November.
In the past in order to make marag, the cow’s intestines would have to be carefully cleaned and used as a natural casing for the marag. Today’s casing can be purchased either artificial or real. A mixture of suet (beef fat), oats and onions is combined together, then salt and pepper is added to season the dish. After the filing was prepared, the casing is stuffed and the ends are tied. The next step is to simmer the casing in water for at least three hours.
While cooking, the casing is pricked with a fork to release some of the fat and prevent the casing from bursting. After the marag is boiled it could be stored in a cold place for a time or cut, into slices and pan fry until the outsides are a crispy brown colour. Marag would often be served with potatoes for supper and eaten as leftovers for breakfast. Recipes vary depending on the family. Each family may add other seasonings to the filling, one example being caraway, while another would add more onion or spices to change the taste how they preferred.
This dish remains enjoyed to the present day by families here in Cape Breton and those adventurous to try the cultural dish.
The Highland Village Marag Recipe:
2 cups Suet
2 cups Onions
2 cups Oats
Salt – to taste
Pepper – to taste
You can watch video of marag being made at the Highland Village Museum
Or visit An Drochaid Eadarainn http://androchaid.ca/maragan , here you can see marag being prepared and hear the Gaelic language being spoken.
- Bennett, Margaret. Oatmeal and The Catechism. P. 184