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Faggots - Recipe

A form of forced-meat ball, held together with caul fat, traditionally found in areas where pigs are bred; so variations occur in Wiltshire, Wales, Nottingham and the Brittany area of North West France.

While regional seasonings vary, faggots are all designed to use up unwanted bits - like lights, hearts and livers.

Here is an excellent recipe, any leftover gravy will serve, but the simple onion version given combines well, and the basic gravy can be made will a proprietary mix if you add half a glass of red wine to give it character.

Ingredients

Equipment needed: A hand mincer with a medium disc, or a food processor

For 4 people:

- 250g (8oz) Beef Chuck Steak
- 250g (8 oz) Ox Heart, trimmed by your butcher
- 250g (8 oz) Lamb's Liver, trimmed of any sinews
- 1 large Egg, lightly beaten.
- 1 Medium Onion, peeled and finely-chopped
- 1 clove of Garlic, peeled and finely-chopped
- a big pinch of dried Thyme
- Salt and freshly-ground Black Pepper
- about 25g (1 oz) Pig's Caul Fat (available from good butchers)
- 25g/1 oz Butter

For the Onion Gravy:

- 25g/1 oz Butter
- 1.1 litres (2 pints) Gravy (see above)
- 2 medium Onions, peeled and cut into thin rings

Method

1. Mince the meat, or give it a carefully measured burst in a processor – ensuring texture remains and it’s not too smooth. Remove and mix in the egg.
2. Put the finely-chopped onion, garlic and dried thyme in a saucepan and add 300ml/ ½ pint of the gravy.
3. Cook the mixture over a low heat until the onions are soft – leave the mixture to cool, then add the mixed meat. While the gravy is cooking, soak the caul fat (which will probably come as a solid block) in cold water.
4. Season with salt and pepper, mix thoroughly and chill in a fridge to firm up for an hour or two.
5. Shape the mixture into 12 balls and wrap each one in a piece of caul fat, which should now be easy to separate – return them to the fridge.
6. To make the onion gravy - Melt 25g/1 oz of butter over a low heat in another saucepan.
7. Add the onion rings and sweat them until they are golden, but not burnt – add a tablespoon (15ml) of water if necessary.
8. While the onion rings are sweating, fry the faggot balls in a deep frying pan, in the remaining 25g/1 oz of butter over a medium heat – rolling them around to stop them sticking – until they are brown on all sides.
9. Add the remaining gravy and cooked onion rings. Bring to the simmer, then cook slowly for about 20 minutes.
Serve.

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