Ffagadau – Welsh Meatballs with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

You know what I love about cooking the most? It never gets old. No matter how many dishes I've cooked up, there's always going to be something I haven't yet made, i.e. something I've been missing out on my entire life.

Case in point: Ffagadau. They're Welsh Meatballs, a.k.a Welsh Faggots, and are like a typical meatball with breadcrumbs, onions, and spices, but they're better! Between adding the cooked bacon, liver, and sherry, the flavors are off the charts. Wrapped neatly in suet, also known as caul fat, these are the most solid meatballs you're ever going to eat.

According to my mom's family genealogy, I'm part Welsh, so this dish is basically in my blood. Unfortunately for me the recipe wasn't passed down through the 5 generations since my third great-grandparents lived in Wales.

Most fortunately, though, there are a ton of foodie series on television these days and Andrew Zimmern introduced me to this amazing dish for the first time on Bizarre Foods. I could just kiss that man! (Shh, don't tell Adrian).

Thanks to Zimmern, I picked up another trick in my recipe repertoire. Now I can dive into some delicious Welsh meatballs with gravy, mashed potatoes, and peas anytime I darn please!

Ffagadau – Welsh Meatballs with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Time: 1 Hour
Serves 6-8

¼ lb bacon, finely chopped
½ cup onion, minced
1 tbsp sage, finely chopped
1 tbsp thyme, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb pork, ground
4 oz pork, lamb, or beef liver, finely chopped
1 tsp mace
1 tsp allspice
1 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 oz suet or strips of streaky bacon
1/3 cup sherry

2 tbsp butter
½ cup yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup homemade beef stock
1 tbsp sherry
2 tsp heavy cream

Mashed Potatoes
3 russet potatoes, about 2 lbs, cut into 2-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2/3 cup whipping cream
½ cup butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp butter
1 lb frozen peas
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450F. 

Heat bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until browned and crisp, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in onion, and sauté for 5-6 minutes, until soft. Stir in sage and thyme and cook until the herbs are fragrant, about 3 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

In a large bowl, add cooked bacon mixture, ground pork, liver, mace, allspice, bread crumbs, and heavy whipping cream. Season with salt and pepper and gently mix with your hands to combine. 

Form meatballs into 3-inch balls, cutting up pieces of suet and wrapping each meatball tightly once formed. Place meatballs on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake meatballs for 10-15 minutes, basting with pan juices and sherry every 5 minutes. Bake until meatballs are golden and the internal temperature reaches 160F. Keep warm.

In a medium saucepan, prepare the gravy by melting the butter over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook until browned, 12-15 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Stir in beef stock and sherry and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Stir in whipping cream and set aside. Keep warm.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and garlic and boil until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain. Return potatoes to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and stir in whipping cream slowly while mashing the potatoes. Keep warm.

In another medium sauce pan, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, and cook, stirring until soft, 5-6 minutes. Stir in peas with 3 tbsp water and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until peas are tender, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve meatballs on plates over mashed potatoes. Top meatballs with gravy and serve with peas on the side.