Main course

Welsh faggots

Ffagodau Cymru‘ is the dish that could get us banned from Google. The snowflake brigade in Mountain View, California take a dim view of the word ‘faggot.’ So much so that they took down advertising for faggots served by Fanny’s Rest Stop Café in Newport, Gwent citing ‘offensive language.’ Knowing the Americans, they will have zeroed in on the term ‘faggot,’ while ignoring the fact that in the UK ‘fanny’ is way worse as it is frequently used as a slightly less offensive way of saying ‘c**t.’ The US use ‘fanny’ for ‘hiney’ (we say ‘arse’).

There you go, Google chew on that lot.

Faggots have their origins in the noble pursuit of nose-to-tail eating. They predominate in the West Midlands and Wales areas of the UK. Between those two regions, there appears to be a split on whether caul fat (the fat from around the kidneys) is used to wrap the faggots in as they cook. From looking at a lot of recipes and videos on the subject, I have come to the conclusion that caul fat is nearly always used in the West Midlands, and is only sometimes used in Wales. In Newport in particular, there was an influx of Birmingham engineers and miners in the 1950s, and that may explain why there is no clear demarcation for caul fat use.

Our recipe was given to us by a friend who has spent an awful lot of time cooking end eating in domestic kitchens in Wales. The recipe is very simple, and requires no frippery. Quantities are approximate, and there is no caul fat.

Fanny’s Rest Stop Café can be found at 116 Alexandra Rd, Newport, Gwent NP20 2JG, UK. The menu can be seen here.

Welsh faggots

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By Michael Richardson Serves: 6
Cooking Time: 35 mins

Ingredients

  • 400g lamb liver, minced
  • Fresh breadcrumbs in the same volume as the mince
  • Onion, finely chopped in one third the volume of the combined mince and breadcrumb volume
  • Handful of fresh sage, chopped
  • Sprig of thyme, chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • A jug of your favourite gravy.

Instructions

1

Heat an oven to 190˚C.

2

Combine all the ingredients into an evenly mixed ball. Use your hands to help warm the fat in the liver to enable everything to stick together.

3

Portion the mixture out into about 12 balls (two per diner). Place the faggots in a shallow earthenware dish and bake in the oven for 25 mins.

4

Meanwhile make whatever gravy or sauce you like to have (see notes).

5

After the faggots have been cooking for 25 mins, pull them out of the oven, pour the gravy over them and return them to the oven for another 10 mins.

6

Serve faggots with mashed potato and mashed swede/turnip. Peas are popular too.

Notes

Faggots are often served with onions, so it makes sense to make an onion gravy. When we did these, we fried onions in butter, added white wine and thyme, reduced that to near zero and then added a bit of demi-glace. That was reduced a bit and the sauce was finished with butter. That is a French-style sauce and would never be made in Wales. If you like Bisto, do Bisto.

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13 Comments

  • Reply
    Stephen M.
    26/01/2020 at 6:32 am

    WEST Midlands,surely? In the Black Country faggots (with caul fat) were a staple when I were a lad.

    PS I much enjoy your posts.

  • Reply
    roger Short
    29/01/2021 at 12:46 pm

    London Saturday night before freezer fast food when pubs shut 1950s have eaten all over UK.

  • Reply
    Nick Gurr
    13/05/2021 at 10:40 pm

    god I love faggot

  • Reply
    Kris
    10/12/2021 at 8:18 am

    This was fantastic. I love liver and if I use it for dinner I have to lie. Chicken liver is in pretty much every meat sauce I make. I always get liver if I see it on a menu. As a gay guy I made these solely to tell my husband he’s a cannibal. While he will never know what meat went into dinner (he doesn’t like organ meat) he loved them too.

    • Reply
      Nigel Eastmond
      10/12/2021 at 8:40 am

      Thanks Kris. If you like those, then take it to another level with these: Quenelles de foie.

      • Reply
        Kris
        10/12/2021 at 10:10 am

        Yep definitely going to make them. If nothing else the description of the looked for consistency in that recipe would have had me cooking for a laugh, Viva la Immaturity! On a serious note is another side other than mashed potatoes (what I did) or peas complementary to faggots? I’m thinking of making this for my parents and I’ll have to withhold their name and call them “Welsh meatballs In onion gravy”.

        • Reply
          Nigel Eastmond
          10/12/2021 at 10:20 am

          Hi Kris. As far as sides go I would think of them as any other meatball. The onion gravy would be lovely with tagliatelle as a lunch, but as an evening meal, I would think about carrotes Vichy, sautéed potatoes, and maybe some simple minted and buttered peas.

  • Reply
    Allen Willcocks
    10/01/2022 at 8:15 pm

    My recipe for Faggots (18-20) is :-
    3 pounds pork liver (chopped fine or minced)
    4 pork kidneys (ditto)
    3/4 pounds minced pork meat
    Breadcrumbs from 2 small Italian type loves
    1 packet of Sage& Onion stuffing mix
    1 large onion minced
    Salt and Pepper to taste.
    Mix all ingredients in large bowl and handcup into 1 1/2″ dia balls
    Place faggot balls in roasting pan(s) and cover each pan with single sheet of caul.
    Cook for 1 hour in oven at 325f
    Take out each faggot with a piece of caul on each (use scissors), wrap each in plastic wrap, bag and freeze.
    Reheat faggots slowly in gravy in saucepan and serve with chips, peas and gravy.

  • Reply
    Julie
    13/03/2022 at 11:55 am

    Where’s the lamb in these “Welsh” faggots. Traditionally in Wales we use lambs liver and kidneys in our faggots! We don’t just put pork in, that would make it a meatball and faggots are certainly not meatballs!! Please don’t waste your time making this recipe, it’s a basic meatball recipe. We are proud of our faggots in Wales and you can find some fantastic recipes. Our Welsh Faggots are full of lovely lamb…. hence the name WELSH faggots.

    • Reply
      Nigel Eastmond
      19/03/2022 at 3:44 pm

      That was just a copy/paste error from our French liver dumpling recipe. It is, of course lamb, and corrected as such. This is not a “waste of time,” rather it is a great family recipe for the dish.

  • Reply
    Marguerite Morgan
    03/07/2022 at 1:26 am

    I’m Welsh now living in Australia.
    Faggots were often served in my large family. Whenever a pig was killed using the liver n offal.
    My mum also made head cheese or brawn, using the brain n head meat after long slow simmered. Also excellent!
    Lambs liver was used to make lamb’s fry Also incorporating cubed bacon. A rich tasty sauce resulted with stock n flour added.

  • Reply
    G.Powell
    05/11/2022 at 8:46 am

    Hate liver on it’s own, love faggots, doesn’t figure.

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