Let me introduce you to a new vegetarian dish: Welsh Faggots (Ffagod). For those of you who have never heard of Faggots, let me clearly state that it has nothing to do with the homophobic disparaging and offensive reference. Faggots are a specialist of Wales in the United Kingdom. Faggots were traditionally made with the innards of pigs. The pate like mixture is then wrapped in the lacy casing of the animals caul and oven roasted slowly. Faggots are traditionally served with mushy peas and onion gravy. Faggots are still made in Wales and are still quite popular. In fact, I've seen them being sold in Cwmbran, a neighbouring town and Abergavenny - which tags itself as the Gateway to Wales, a place where tourists flock for sure on their way to the Brecon Beacons - so its sure a novelty for some to try, a bit like the Welsh Rarebit which really is just cheese on toast, but hey ho its a pound maker.
I set myself the challenge a few months ago, around St Davids Day in fact to re-create a mock meat and vegetarian friendly variation of the Welsh Faggots.
Well I did it, however this main meal of a dish failed to feature on my St Davids Menu, simply because I was being a little too ambitious and found myself a little stretched. So the menu featured Welsh dishes such as Welsh Glamorgan Eggs, Caerphilly Cheese, Leek and Potato Pie. For those who liked their spices, I made Welsh Chilli: Red, White and Green in a Bowl, Red Thai Dragon Curry and our popular Red Dragon Burgers.
These vegan mock Welsh Faggots of course do not taste of real Welsh faggots, and even if they did I would not know for sure as it has never passed my lips. These vegan Welsh faggots were made so Welsh vegetarian people like me could partake and celebrate St Davids Day, in the same vain as my vegetarian Scots friends celebrate St Andrews and Burns Night with haggis. I know its not the prettiest looking plates of food I've showcase in while, but you should know by now that homely traditional food is not pretty food, but hearty rib sticking food.
Welsh faggots are traditionally served with mashed potatoes and mushy peas, I served my vegan Welsh faggots with sauteed winter green and another popular Welsh dish Onion Cake (Teisen winwns). Onion Cake was one of the first dishes I ever got to make at school. When I took it home to be sliced and enjoyed by my family, my mother looked at me in horrified. The sliced potatoes were raw. I blame my Home Economics teacher for being poor and unhelpful. I was only a kid. This time, my onion cake just melted and the onion gravy was delightful. Its a perfect dish to enjoy on a rainy wet blustery evening.
Vegan Welsh Faggots (Ffagod)
Makes about 10 - 12 faggots
Serves 5 - 6
170g light TVP mince
375ml made with 1 tablespoon of bouillon powder
1 medium onion, minced
2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
75g plain flour high in gluten/bread flour
2 fresh sage leaves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
Salt and pepper to taste
Additional oil for frying
Reconstitute TVP mince by pouring the stock over the granules, covering tightly with plate and let sit for 10 minutes.
In a large pan, saute the onions in oil over gentle heat until translucent and soft. About 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat mix in the flour, herbs and seasoning. Let sit until cool enough to handle. With your hands, form large balls about 3 inches in diameter, a bit like a chunky burger. Use a lot of pressure when forming your faggots, you don’t want them to fall apart.
Shallow fry them until golden brown on both sides.
Put in oven to keep warm while you make the onion gravy.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 pint of vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Method for Onion Gravy
Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onions and cook gently for about 30 minutes, until the onions are soft and caramelised to a rich golden brown. Lower the heat and stir in the flour, then gradually whisk in the water, stir continuously for 20 minutes or until it begins to thicken and the liquid begins to reduce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
This onion sauce can be made in advance.
When ready to serve, pour over the Welsh Faggots and enjoy each mouthful, slowly.