Brilliant bubble & squeak
As a way of using up leftover vegetables, bubble and squeak is a pan full of simple joy
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.
Find out more about Mary Kemp’s cookery theatres, demonstrations and more recipes at marykemp.net
ABOVE:You can even posh up bubble and squeak by making it into little cakes