A classic British recipe, perfect with some good mash, peas and some pokey English mustard
guardian.co.uk, Friday 30 September 2011 11.05 BST
Faggots View larger picture
Faggots from Valentine Warner’s The Good Table. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin/Mitchell Beazley
Faggots remind me of the less-comfortable pubs that are better for it: hard, dark-wood bench seating, whitewashed walls and a low ceiling, a small crackling fire and the low murmur of locals leaning against the bar. I come alone and like a corner table and a pint of bitter with a pickled egg. The faggots are quietly set down as I read the paper and I’ll probably have to ask for some mustard. Lunch will bring a quiet smile and then it’s back out into the drizzle. I like the old things.
The Good Table
by Valentine Warner
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Makes 12 faggots
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
12 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground mace
2 teaspoons black pepper
500g minced pork belly
100g minced bacon
4 lamb’s kidneys, rinsed, skinned,
cored and finely but roughly chopped
150g pork or lamb’s liver, finely but roughly chopped
1 level tablespoon flaked sea salt
(½ tablespoon if using fine salt)
100g coarse white breadcrumbs,
made from stale bread
100ml whole milk
200g beef caul
For the gravy:
2 large onions, finely sliced
1 tablespoon soft dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
1½ level tablespoons plain flour
500ml good dark beef stock, or a can of consommé mixed with water
flaked sea salt and black pepper
cooked frozen peas
Melt 30g of the butter in a frying pan and in it sweat the onion with the thyme, sage and spices over a medium–low heat for about 15 minutes, or until very soft. Add the mixture to the meats and salt in a big bowl, and mix all together well, then add the breadcrumbs and milk. Get your hands in there and squish the mixture through them until it is really well combined. Take a little of the raw mixture and fry it to see how it tastes; correct the seasoning accordingly.
Tenderly open up the caul and hold it up to the light to see where any holes might be (to avoid when assembling the faggots), then spread it out on the work surface. Take an open fistful of the mixture and place it on the caul so that you can cut a sheet around it to the size of two-thirds of a piece of A5 paper. Fold the caul over the top of the meats as if you were wrapping up treasured possessions in a handkerchief. All the corners should overlap and the meats be tightly surrounded. Turn the faggot over. Repeat until all are done.
Heat some more butter in a frying pan over a medium–high heat and put the faggots in, fold-side down. Briskly fry until brown, taking care not to burn them. Turn over and gently fry on the other side. They should not open, but if they do, place a plate over the top of the batch to secure the folds. Repeat until all are good and brown. Transfer them to a board.
In the same frying pan, fry the onions in the leftover faggot fat over a medium–low heat for 30 minutes or so until richly coloured. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160C fan/180°C/Gas 4. Add the brown sugar and malt vinegar to the frying pan and cook until the vinegar has evaporated completely. Then sprinkle in the flour and cook gently, stirring, for a further minute or so. The flour must not burn. Start adding the beef stock or canned consommé, bit by bit, stirring constantly. Taste for seasoning, remembering that the faggots are highly seasoned.
Place the faggots in a good-sized, shallow casserole and cover with the gravy, then the lid. Bake gently for 1½ hours. For the last 20 minutes, remove the lid. What else could you serve it with but some good mash and some frozen peas? Oh! And, of course, some pokey English mustard.
• This recipe is taken from The Good Table by Valentine Warner (Mitchell Beazley, £25). To order a copy for £20 visit the Guardian bookshop