Faggots and paes
Originally from Dudley in the Black Country, I was brought up on cheap nutritious food, particularly offal, such as kidney, liver, lights, and even brains, a delicacy on thick white toast.
'Faggits an pays' as it is called in the Black Country, is a traditional offal based dish that everyone loves in and around Birmingham and the Black Country. Some Saturday lunchtimes, my family would head for a little café in Hall Street in Dudley and have a cheap lunch of faggots and peas, but mother's home-made versions were always the best. She'd make up a big vat of faggots at the start of the week and we would still be enjoying them on Thursday. I still make my own faggots to add to some marrow-fat peas. Why not try making them yourself?
Ingredients (serves 5):
350g pig's heart
350g pig's liver
350g pigs lights (lungs)
115g dried white breadcrumbs
1 medium onion - finely chopped
1tbsp finely chopped sage
salt and pepper
1tbsp plain flour for dusting
1tbsp olive oil for greasing
5 large potatoes - cut in half
For the peas:-
300g dried marrow fat peas
1tbsp bicarbonate of soda
For the gravy:-
1tbsp cornflour mixed with 4tbsp cold water
2tbsp gravy browning
• Prepare the peas - place them in a bowl with the bicarbonate of soda. Cover with water and leave to soak overnight.
• Preheat the oven to 180'C or gas mark 4. Oil a 20cm x 28cm baking dish.
• Trim all the veins, sinew, and fat from the offal and set aside for the gravy. Weigh what is left - you should have about 225g of each offal. Place them separately in a blender or food processor and pulse until broken up but not liquidised. Transfer to a mixing bowl, and add the breadcrumbs, onions and sage. Season well.
• With floured hands, take handfuls of the mixture and shape into10 small balls. Make sure each ball is tightly packed.
• Put the flour on a plate and roll each faggot in it, then place them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
• Put the chilled faggots into the prepared baking dish and pour in enough water to come three quarters of the way up them. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 90 minutes, checking the water every 20 minutes and topping it up to maintain a constant level. After 70 minutes of cooking, stop topping up the water and allow most of it to evaporate. By the end of the cooking time, the faggots will be slightly crisp and firm.
• Drain the peas and rinse them in cold water and place in a steamer over a medium heat for at least 40 minutes. The longer the peas are steamed for, the mushier they will be.
• With 40 minutes of the faggot cooking time left, put the potatoes on to boil for 20-30 minutes, depending on how firm you like them. I like mine soft so they can be mashed up with the gravy and peas.
• To make the gravy, put the reserved offal trimmings and water into a large pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes, and then strain through a sieve, discarding all the solids. Return the stock to the pan and bring to the boil. Slowly add the cornflour mixture, stirring until the desired thickness is reached. Add the gravy browning, and then season to taste.
• Transfer the faggots to a warm plate. Pour any juices from the baking dish into the gravy, stirring as it comes to the boil, and continue bubbling until reduced to about 3900ml.
To serve, divide the boiled or mashed potatoes between the five serving plates, place the faggots alongside and add a good helping of mushy peas. Spoon some gravy all over and serve with thick slices of crusty white bread.
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