No. 73 Belgian Faggots
Heather Arndt Anderson
Posted on May 4th, 2011
A Recipe from A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes (by Charles Elmé Francatelli, 1861); adapted for the modern kitchen, should you find yourself in need of an economical supper.
No. 73. BELGIAN FAGGOTS.
These may be prepared with sheep’s pluck, or even with bullock’s liver, and other similar parts of meat; but a pig’s pluck is preferable for the purpose. Chop up the heart, liver, lights, and the fat crow; season well with pepper, salt, allspice, thyme, sage, and (sic) shalots, and divide this sausage-meat into balls the size of an apple, which must be each secured in shape with a piece of pig’s caul fastened with a wooden twig, or skewer, and placed in rows in a tin baking-dish, to be baked for about half an hour in a brisk oven. When the faggots are done, place them on some well-boiled cabbages, chopped up, in an earthen dish, and having poured the grease from the faggots over all, set them in the oven to stew gently for half an hour.
As far as I can surmise, this is a recipe for a crepinette made of offal. I’d hazard you’d pay around $15 for two of these as an appetizer nowadays, even though this is technically peasant fodder.
A few notes: the pluck of an animal is the heart, liver and lungs. These are usually obtained from your butcher, particularly if you’re on a first name basis with yours (shout-out to Richard at Eastmoreland Market, heeeyyy!). If you don’t know your butcher well and are feeling adventurous, pork pluck is available at most well-stocked Chinese groceries (such as Fubonn in SE Portland). The caul is the lacy fat that surrounds the abdominal lining—it’s usually reserved by charcuterie-types for things like crepinettes or for larding leaner cuts of meat for roasting. Again, it’s a good idea to know your butcher if you want in on this action, elsewise you may consider buying pork en carcasse so you can get all these goodies in one wonderful package. You can usually find a friend or neighbor willing to split if freezer space is a concern. Crow (aka frill or mudgeon; anatomically known as the mesentery) fat is a lower-quality lard from inside the abdomen; lard or bacon fat is an acceptable substitute.
Finely chop up a pork liver, heart and lungs with about 1/2 lb of pork belly and mix with a good pinch of salt, a few cracks of fresh pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice (or about 10 scratches of fresh nutmeg), 1/2 teaspoon each of ground sage and thyme, one finely minced shallot, and I’m going to take the liberty of suggesting you add a small handful of bread crumbs to hold this mess together. Roll the mixture into golfballs, wrap each with a piece of caul fat and secure each with a toothpick or a rosemary twig, if you’re feeling Jamie Oliverish (being from Essex, I’m sure he knows his way around a peasant dish).
Arrange the faggots in an oiled baking dish on a bed of chopped cabbage (and onions, I suggest) and roast for 45 minutes at 350°. Don’t mess with the roasting then boiled cabbage and re-roasting – it seems really arbitrary and boiling cabbage makes the whole house smell…peasanty.
Enjoy with a cold mug of brown beer.