Bril­liant bub­ble & squeak

As a way of us­ing up left­over vegeta­bles, bub­ble and squeak is a pan full of sim­ple joy

EDP Norfolk - - MY CULINARY COUNTY - Mary Kemp

Christ­mas has be­come ex­tra spe­cial for us as we en­joy the chaos and ex­cite­ment that comes with our three grand­chil­dren. Evie, now 11, is very philo­soph­i­cal about Fa­ther Christ­mas, Dilly at nine doesn’t wish to ques­tion too much – just in case – and Made­lyn at four is mak­ing her lists to be sent to the North Pole. I just love it!

The house will be crammed with food and there will be ab­so­lutely no dan­ger of us starv­ing. For a few days af­ter the fridge will be full of left­overs and I won’t need to go shop­ping or food buy­ing for days, which is a real treat.

One of the ques­tions we are all faced with at Christ­mas is what to do with the left­overs? The tur­key car­cass will, of course be des­tined for the stock pot, as is the ham bone, giv­ing me a sup­ply of won­der­ful stock for mak­ing soups over the next few weeks. But it’s the left­over vegeta­bles that are more dif­fi­cult to res­ur­rect.

One of my favourite win­ter recipes is bub­ble and squeak. What a strange name for such a sim­ple dish and a tri­umph of thrifti­ness, us­ing up those left­over vegeta­bles. With some cold meat and a lit­tle chut­ney (I still like mine with ketchup) it’s an, easy, de­li­cious meal, one which we seem to ig­nore the rest of the year.

Dr Wil­liam Kitchiner pub­lished a book in 1817 called the

Api­cius Re­di­vivus, or The Cook’s Or­a­cle, which I gather was the most opin­ion­ated, ar­ro­gant book you can imag­ine and not at all prac­ti­cal. (It was writ­ten by a man who pos­si­bly never cooked, af­ter all!) He con­sid­ered vegeta­bles ir­rel­e­vant, and those he did in­clude in recipes were boiled for hours in plenty of wa­ter.

But in this strange di­a­logue was found his master­piece, bub­ble and squeak – fried boiled cab­bage with salted beef served with ‘wow wow’ sauce and pick­les. ‘Wow wow’ sauce was a velouté sauce made with beef stock, vine­gar and port wine.

But why call it bub­ble and squeak? It pos­si­bly comes from Dr Kitchiner’s sense of hu­mour. But oth­ers think the name is more prac­ti­cal than that. The in­gre­di­ents are boiled, which gives us the bub­ble, then, when the vegeta­bles are fried and pressed down into the pan, the noise it makes sounds a bit like a squeak.

Recipes in this form con­tin­ued right up to the 1940s. Then, it went from a beef-based recipe to po­tato-based, not sur­pris­ing with the ra­tioning dur­ing and af­ter the Sec­ond World War.

Many recipes sug­gest equal quan­ti­ties of cooked po­tato to cab­bage or sprouts. Take your vegeta­bles out of the fridge and let them come to room tem­per­a­ture. Mash the pota­toes with a fork or in a food pro­ces­sor, shred the greens finely then mix with the pota­toes.

Melt a good-size piece of but­ter in a heavy-based pan with a dash of oil and add the po­tato mix. Press down and smooth flat, then fry over a mod­er­ate heat, un­til golden brown, turn and cook the un­der­side – serve and en­joy.

Happy Christ­mas!

Find out more about Mary Kemp’s cook­ery the­atres, demon­stra­tions and more recipes at

ABOVE:You can even posh up bub­ble and squeak by mak­ing it into lit­tle cakes

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