PENNY DUCKS, also known as savoury ducks, were a working class delicacy – on Teesside, they’d be sold steaming hot and smothered in mushy peas for those starting early shifts; in Darlington, they’d be sold drippingly hot with gravy for those coming out of the cinemas late at night.

They must once-upon-a-time have cost a penny, although how they received a name related to a waterfowl is unknown.

In other parts of the country, they are known as faggots – from an ancient word meaning a “bundle of similar objects”. Some posh restaurants now try and serve them as a nostalgic starter.

Even 20 years ago, you could buy penny ducks in family butchers and market stalls. In 2004, there were five butchers in Darlington town centre offering the speciality, but with the supermarketification of food, we haven’t seen a duck for a while: are they still available anywhere?

Fancy faggots in a restaurant - as penny ducks, they were once a working class delicacy

Fancy faggots in a restaurant - as penny ducks, they were once a working class delicacy

All, though, is not lost. Beside the keyboard as this column is composed lies the Durham WI Cookery Book, price five shillings (or 25 new pence), which dates it at just over 50 years old. The book was rashly bought for 50p via the internet, and what an investment it turns out to have been because there is a recipe submitted by the ladies of Aycliffe WI for faggots.


1lb pigs liver

¾lb onions

¾lb stale bread

1 teaspoon powdered sage

1 good pinch mixed herbs

salt and pepper

Pigs Caul (it will be necessary to ask your butcher to keep Caul).


Steep bread in warm water. Drain as dry as possible, and mash with a fork. Peel and chop onions. Chop liver and mix all together with seasoning. Put the caul into warm water for a few minutes, then spread out carefully and cut with scissors into six inch squares. Put heaped tablespoonful of meat mixture on each square and wrap into a ball. Pack closely together in a baking tin, half fill with water and bake for one hour at 375 degrees or Reg 5. Serve hot with mashed potatoes and peas.