Monday, 12 April 2010
Oh okay. You got me. These are not Lancashire meatballs. In fact, I don't think there are such things as Lancashire meatballs.
No, I might as well come clean. These are faggots. Ok? Great big fagging faggots. A bunch of faggots. So let's all have a good titter, like we do when poor old Roger Boyes in the Times has to write about sex scandals in the Catholic church and everyone forwards the link to everyone they know with the line "Look at what this article is about and then LOOK AT THE NAME OF THE GUY WHO WROTE IT?! Ha ha wtf is this a joke??"
But is the fact that these have a funny name the reason for their fall from popularity? Or is it their offaly-ness? For these are things of great and bountiful offal. Mostly pig or lamb's liver but also pretty much anything you can get your hands on: heart, "lights" (lungs), kidneys, spleen - anything. Offal, despite being fashionable again, isn't yet popular. Probably because it's less easy to get hold of and people don't know how to cook it anymore. And, to most people, a pizza is just nicer than dealing with this:
Faggots certainly taste liver-y and therefore challenging if you're not really into that stuff, but the tinny liver taste is softened with the added breadcrumbs, fat, salt, sage and onions - so then end up tasting a bit like giant balls of stuffing. Mix them in with some veg and some gravy and they're getting on for delicious.
Anyway I thought I'd give this a go because good old Tina Bricknell-Webb of Percy's includes it in her cookbook and I thought at least one of her readers ought to give it a go as a reward to her for being as brave as to attempt to popularise such a massively unpopular thing.
For this, I used a lamb's heart and half a liver, purchased from the Parliament Hill farmer's market, which is open from 11am-2pm every Saturday. I also used some bacon to jolly things along a bit.
So here we go. This recipe can be found on p.26 of Percy's, by Tina Bricknell-Webb. I promise this is the last recipe I use from here, for everyone out there who is as bored as hell with hearing her name.
510g meat - pig or lamb's liver/ kidney/spleen/lungs/heart and a bit of bacon if you like
3 medium onions
140g fresh breadcrumbs
1 tbsp chopped sage
salt and pepper
1 Mince your meat in a mincer - or if you're not a professional butcher and haven't got a mincer, you can bash it around a bit in a food processor. You can can reduce it to a smooth paste or have it a bit rougher - up to you. Mince or blitz the onions quite finely.
2 Put all this in a bowl with the breadcrumbs, sage and suet. The farmer's market butcher said that he usually adds an egg to bind it all together. I forgot - but that's something you could do if you felt like it.
3 Mix all this around and then shape into balls and put in a greased roasting tin. Cook at 175C for 30 minutes.
When these are cooked, you'll find there's a bit of fat and grease floating around in the bottom of the tin. I turned this into an okay gravy by sprinkling about 1tbsp flour over the fat and mashing in to make a roux and then adding about 200ml stock (from a cube), 0.5 glass of red wine and some salt. Then I transferred the whole thing to a sauce pan and boiled the shit out of it until it was a gravy. You can also add some butter to make it glossy if you like.