For the perfect bubble and squeak, perfect in taste and texture, the trick is to get the ratio of the ingredients right. It took me a while to recreate this recipe, as close as possible to my mums, and I had to eat a lot of bubble and squeak to get there (a terrible experience). I think it’s perfect now, perfect for me that is, but we all grew up with different mums and therefore recipes may vary too. I offer you a good basic Bubble and Squeak recipe which you can tinker with at your leisure.
There’s no definitive recipe so the perfect Bubble and Squeak will be whatever your mother made for you, as mine is, but there is great commonality between all recipes, because it was a Monday night dish made from the leftovers from Sunday dinner. Sunday dinners were all once pretty much the same, and therefore so were Bubble and Squeak recipes. It was easy and cheap to make a bit more cabbage and spud for another meal on Monday.
So the basic recipe contains mashed potato and cabbage, and in our house usually swede too, but carrots and peas might find their way in occasionally, or sometimes chopped up roast spuds. At Christmas more exotic leftovers are generated and so chopped up cooked sausages and/or sprouts might be added. If you were very lucky then a few small pieces of cold meat, usually beef, might appear but my basic recipe is potato, cabbage and swede thus making this meal suitable for vegetarians. It’s the cabbage that puts the ‘squeak’ in ‘Bubble and Squeak’.
Something’s always puzzled me. In our house, we had three, very physically active men, all of who could eat huge quantities of food, never leave anything, never refuse seconds, and even thirds, so there was rarely ever anything left after Sunday dinner. Anything not eaten was left out ‘on the top’ and was fair game, and slowly disappeared over the next few hours. Yet sufficient ‘leftovers’ miraculously appeared on Monday night as Bubble and Squeak. Clever things mums. I wonder where she hid it?
A word of warning though. Bubble and squeak is a leftovers dish, made from cold, but cooked ingredients. One thing I did learn is that if you attempt to make it fresh, with newly made and still hot ingredients then the result will be disappointing. So you need to leave the ingredients overnight at least, to ‘mature’ and consolidate.
Most recipes call for the ingredients to be chopped small however I always liked the ingredients as they came, as they were left, adding a bit of character, colour and texture to the finished dish. Minimum input, maximum character!
Proportions by volume of the cold, cooked ingredients:
1.0 x mash spuds
1.0 x cooked cabbage,
0.5 cooked swede – rough mashed
0.4 cooked carrot – ideally rough mashed but leave a few lumps
salt and white pepper to taste (minimal)
cooking times if you are making from scratch:
cabbage boiled for 6 mins
swede boiled for 7 mins
carrots boiled for 5 mins
Mix according to the proportions above, or to your own, add any ‘extras’, then dump them in a pan and fry it all in whatever fat or oil you prefer, not too much, just enough to crisp up the bottom. It’s traditional to have crispy, ‘crozzled’, scabby, or crunchy bits turned through the dish. In our house the fat of choice was re-cycled dripping or lard, and sometimes butter, but any vegetable oil will do to keep the meal vegetarian. I find that rape seed oil browns things up faster than other oils and makes for decent ‘crozzled’ bits. Olive oil is useless and taints the spuds.
At first I use a gentle heat for warming through without burning, followed by a higher heat to raise the temperature and create the scabby bottom (which is mixed in with regular turning).
It was always served ‘dry’ (without gravy) in our house, sometimes with a fried egg on top, often with pickles or chutneys, red cabbage being a favourite, and a pile of bread and butter of course, but I know some people like it with gravy. Pickles or chutneys seems to be a common tradition in my part of the world (Yorkshire). If you know of any regional variations to either the recipe or the serving of the finished dish then please let me know.
I know that some recipes contain fried onions however the point of bubble and squeak was that it was a quick dish for a busy housewife, a warm up of leftovers only, so other ingredients which required cooking were counter to this objective.
Some versions have an egg beaten into the mix too but we never had this in our house either.
Give it a try.
Cheers for now.
And if you are looking for more potato recipes then why not try a traditional North East of England dish, ‘Floddies’ (details of this recipe on this web site).