cooked faggots

January 26th, 2012

Faggots are a traditional English dish, particularly popular in the Midlands (especially popular during the second world war). A faggot is a mixture of pork offal, generally comprised of bacon, belly, heart, liver, minced up with herbs and seasoning. Genuine faggots should be wrapped in caul fat from the pig’s abdomen.

caul fat

Caul is a membrane with streaks of fat in it – so it holds the faggot together while cooking, lubricating and adding flavour at the same time.

downland faggots

I noticed the faggots on the Downlands stall at the Islington Farmers’ Market on Sunday – they were £1 each. Downlands are award winning pig farmers and pork butchers, so I expected a good quality product.

faggot close up

Faggots are a cooked meat product, like haggis or black pudding. The ingredients are cooked beforehand and then rolled into a ball and wrapped in the caul fat. One can buy pre made faggots as I did, or make them yourself.

Faggots in Onion Gravy recipe:

2 faggots per person
1 large onion (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
1 heaped dessertspoonful of flour
1 pint of beef stock (preferably home made)
a glass of red wine
a splash of red wine vinegar
a squirt of tomato purée
a knob of butter
a little olive oil
seasoning to taste

single faggot in butter

Faggots are traditionally browned in a little butter, before slow oven cooking in an onion gravy.

faggots browning

Being greedy, I bought four!

Brown the faggots all over in butter (I added a little olive oil to the butter). Once browned, remove the faggots from the pan.

caramelised onions

Fry the onions in the same pan (ideally a cast iron casserole) until they caramelise a little (don’t let them burn).

onions and garlic

Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two,


before mixing in the flour.


Slowly stir in the beef stock and allow it to bubble and thicken.

gravy thickening

Stir in the wine, vinegar and purée, then taste the gravy. Add some seasoning if necessary, but don’t overdo it, since the faggots have a lot of flavour which will add to the gravy as they cook.

faggot in gravy

When the gravy looks and tastes good (don’t let it get really thick since it’s going to cook in the oven with the faggots), drop the faggots into it and put the lid on the pan.

four faggots

Cook in a preheated oven at 180º C for about to an hour. I suggest checking at 30 minutes – if at this point the gravy is getting too think, stir in some water or more wine.

Serve with peas and mashed potato. I was particularly impressed with the Downlands faggots – they were well flavoured, solid, meaty and delicious – I doubt that they contained any breadcrumbs. It turned out that 2 were enough, even for me, but I do  have dinner ready for another day!

mr. brain’s

Mr Brain’s Pork Faggots can be found in the freezer section of most UK supermarkets.

Keith Floyd making faggots.

About Mad Dog

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18 Responses to Faggots

  1. That does look good! Here we have something similar called fricandeau, often cooked with lentils.

  2. Amazing – have only ever eaten them in restaurants where, of course, they charge a whole lot more! I think it´s finding the caul to make them that´s tricky isn´t it? The look and sound so good, well anything with onion gravy is going to be be fabulous isn´t it?!

    • Mad Dog says:

      Yes if doing them properly, though I think a good butcher could provide it and I’m sure everything with onion gravy is good – even that Spanish cockerel 😉

  3. Mmmm those look good, one of my favourite meals with mash.

  4. You do a very neat “step by step”, however I’ve had my fill of lungs and spleen after my second and successful Burns Night. I do have good memories of faggots however, although I’d be grateful if someone would change their name!

  5. Rick Sareen says:

    Famous old ad biz story about Brain’s Faggots who were big in the 60s – Their ad slogan at the time was “Take home a faggot tonight”.
    (Bear in mind that not many people traveled or understood other cultures well then.)
    The new marketing director decided to expand into the USA using the same slogan.
    You can imagine the rest!

  6. ceciliag says:

    wow that really is good food, i used to live in Islington just before i came to the US! Small world.. c

  7. peasepudding says:

    I hated faggots as a kid but they never looked like those yummy ones in the pic, prob cheap nasty one from Iceland freezer dept.

  8. Pingback: Faggots and Onion Gravy | Chica Andaluza

  9. chef mimi says:

    I’m still laughing. I thought about doing a post on these because I’ve become so intrigued with UK food in the last few years, but I was afraid WordPress would lock up my blog. You’re very brave!!! Terrible name, but they look absolutely delicious!!!

    • Mad Dog says:

      How could I not post a traditional old fashioned food 😉 It beats me how the name of a traditional food or bundle of sticks became synonymous with homosexuality in America – there may be an answer here.

  10. Pingback: Abergavenny Food Festival 2014 (Sunday) | Mad Dog TV Dinners

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