Faggots - Gastro Obscura

Prepared Foods


There's much more to these offal-based meatballs than the unfortunate double meaning of their name.

Faggots are meatballs, typically derived from pork offal, that originated as farmer’s food in the British countryside. Though they unfortunately share their name with a slur in American English, the two terms are unrelated. (Here, the meatballs’ name comes from an old British term for a bundle of sticks and refers to the way the meatballs are shaped and wrapped in fat before baking.)

Commonly, faggots consist of minced pork offal such as heart, liver, or spleen mixed with onions, spices such as sage or parsley, and breadcrumbs. The mixture is shaped by hand into small balls, wrapped with caul fat (or sometimes bacon), and baked in an earthenware dish. The resulting rich meatballs get served with gravy, mashed potatoes or chips, and various forms of peas depending on locality. In the area known as the Black Country in West Midlands, England, they are often served with mushy peas (“pays” in the local accent).

Faggots became particularly popular during World War II rationing when offal was used to supplement the small amounts of “proper” meat each household received. While their popularity has declined since then, they still have a loyal following. They’re most commonly made at home, but they can be also be found in traditional butcher shops and, thanks to the rise of the nose-to-tail eating movement, increasingly in restaurants.

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