Sunday, 18 October 2009


I recently offered my services to Simon Majumdar of Dos Hermanos, when he asked for someone to test a recipe for faggots for a forthcoming book. Certain friends gave me the nickname 'Faggot', as my surname almost rhymes with it, and since I'd never tried them before I jumped at the chance.

The recipe recommends adding pigs heart, but upon visiting my butcher and asking for pigs liver, pigs heart and caul fat (which the faggots are traditionally wrapped in), he couldn't help me. These cuts are not in vogue, and so they don't sell them. Morrisons helped me out with the pig liver though; they have an astonishing range of alternative cuts of meat. Alas, another obstacle - I visited no less than 4 supermarkets and not one of them had sage in stock. Apparently all the Canadians had snapped it up for their Thankgiving stuffings. I persevered and was rewarded with this handsome meal.

This is seriously rib-sticking stuff; perfect for this autumnal weather. The seasoning was spot on. Rich and deeply meaty with a hint of liver here and there, the faggots were juicy without being greasy. The thyme flavoured the faggots nicely, and the only criticism I had was that I felt they needed a touch more sage. I had an accident while hand-mincing a slab of pork belly, and I almost took the top of my index finger off; much bleeding ensued and the rest of the mincing wasn't as fine as it could have been.

Welsh Faggots

Makes 6 Faggots

500gms Pork Belly (trim off the skin and, unless you are a savage, keep to make crackling)

250gms Pigs Liver

250gms Lamb Breast

125gms Pig Heart (optional, but adds real flavour)

125gms of breadcrumbs (made using day old bread)

1 Large white onion (finely chopped)

1 Teaspoon of Salt

1 Teaspoon of white pepper

1 Teaspoon fresh sage (finely chopped)

1 Teaspoon fresh thyme (finely chopped)

If you can find caul fat at your butcher all the better, but if not, strips of good unsmoked back bacon will do just as well.

Mince all the meats together, mixing to make sure they are combined. Add the onion, the salt, pepper and herbs and mince once more to the texture of a rough pate. Add the breadcrumbs and mix well. Form the mixture into cricket ball sized balls and wrap in caul fat or in a criss-cross of bacon. Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour to firm. Bake in a pre-heated oven at around 180c/350f/Gas 4 for fifty minutes to an hour. Serve with a thick rich gravy and a bowl of homemade mushy peas doused liberally with malt vinegar. I added a glob of mint sauce to my mushy peas which also worked brilliantly.

Simon's book is out next May. If all the recipes are as good as this, it will be well worth buying.

(Any leftover faggots work fantastically chopped up into bubble and squeak...)


Helen said...

I practically grew up on faggots, although it was the Mr. Brains ones I will admit and I'm still partial to them now in a nostalgic, guilty pleasure kind of way. I've not tried making my own but I have no idea why - should have done it years ago. They look like big, beautiful beasts of faggoty goodness.

Dan said...

That's a real 'hearty' recipe Liz....
I'm here all week folks!!!

Looks delicious and extremely 'meaty'
err.....but did you manage to get a pigs heart in the end?

Interesting about the sage drought - bizzare how ingredients just dry up, I had the same thing with Cumin a while back, normally so everyday - nowhere had it for a couple of days. No idea why.

Misty Mays said...

I have never tried these before but they look delicious plus im hungry. I love trying new things to do! A new recipe to pawn off on my college friends.

Food Urchin said...

Ah faggots, have heard them described as the world's dirtiest meatballs before. Luuverly.

And like Helen, Brains faggots hold a special place in my heart. I must say yours look very posh in comparison.


Kerri said...

I've never had faggots but these look great and not too difficult to make at home either, providing you can source all the relevant ingredients I suppose.

We shopped in Morrison's while we were in Cumbria and I noticed the selection of meat too, very impressive.

Browners said...

Big fan of faggots. Looking forward to checking out the rest of the recipes.

But as I said on the photo page and I'll reititerate here - if you can get hold of some lungs it helps to add some lightness to the faggots. Or at least that's what a butcher in Somerset told me!

Fabhat said...

If you get stuck for obscure meaty items again, it's worth trying Wellbeloved in Tanners Hill Deptford - if he hasn't got what you want in, he's very happy to order it for you.

Fillyerboots said...

My mum used to make me faggots - with pease pudding, as opposed to mushy peas. Haven't seen pease pudding for years.

Lizzie said...

Helen - I've still not tried Mr Brains, though imagine home-made are better - they always are, aren't they?

Dan - Da-dum! No, I didn't find the hearts in the end, sadly.

Misty - it was a first for me too - highly recommended.

FU - Nothing dirty about these ones!

Kerri - I think Morrisons is the way forward if you're to try these - they were the only place I could find the liver.

Browners - I can imagine the texture of lung to be very light and pillowy, so that makes sense.

Fabhat - thanks for the local info, as always. Will seek them out.

Fillyerboots - really? I've never had pease pudding!

LexEat said...

I love that Morrisons had pig liver but not sage.
I actually find very good lamb at Morrisons - particularly shoulder which slow cooks brilliantly.

Eva Hester said...

Look delicious

Gourmet Chick said...

this sounds disgusting but looks delicious - who would have thought Morrisons would be the go to shop?!

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