Less Noise, More Green: British Food: Bubble and Squeak

Friday, August 30, 2013

British Food: Bubble and Squeak

Bubble and Squeak is a classic British comfort food. It is so simple to make it doesn't really require a recipe. Leftover mashed potatoes and cabbage fried until crispy golden on both sides; it is stick to your ribs satisfying,

Bubble and Squeak has been served up on English dinner plates since the mid seventeen hundreds when leftover roast beef and cabbage, from Sunday Lunch, was combined and fried in very hot fat in an iron skillet.  The ingredients remained the same until the early twentieth century when the meat disappeared and was replaced with mashed potatoes. Hard times during the depression and rationing during World War II cemented the new combination. What remained the same was the need to use up leftovers from Sunday's roast. Monday was traditionally wash day which left women with little time to cook. Bubble and Squeak was a great solution.

The name Bubble and Squeak comes from the noise the dish makes as it cooks. To get the potatoes and cabbage to squeak, they must be fried in very hot animal fat. The traditional fat is lard but I like to cook bacon in the skillet first, then remove most of the grease before adding the mash. The basic ratio of mashed potato and cabbage is one to one but I've seen variations where any leftover vegetables are used.

Potatoes, of course, are a dietary staple in the British Isles. Bubble and Squeak is similar to the Irish Colcannon, which is mashed potatoes with cabbage and leeks added but not fried, and Rumpledethumps, a Scottish dish which is mashed potatoes, cabbage and onion mixed and baked in the oven with cheese browned on top.

Bubble and Squeak

2 cups of mashed potatoes
2 cups of cooked chopped cabbage
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat a skillet with fat to coat the pan. Mix the potatoes, cabbage and seasonings. Add to the pan when very hot and spread out with the back of a spoon to cover the bottom. Leave undisturbed for five minutes until the bottom is crispy brown.  Cut the mash into quarters and turn each piece over to brown on the other side. Serve immediately.

I like to serve Bubble and Squeak with brown gravy and sausages.

What is your favorite dish using leftovers?


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