I was once mercilessly mocked by an Australian and American couple I knew for the “ridiculous” names we Brits give to our food. Bangers and mash, spotted dick, jam roly poly…they suggested we would call spaghetti hoops “schplonkers” because of the schplonk sound they make when the spoon drops in them. Well, Bubble and Squeak pretty much epitomises this. Named for the hissing, popping sounds it makes as you stare down the pan in a battle of strength…will you cave? Will you flip and disturb it, or will you continue to let the crust form and risk burning?
In any case, there are hundreds of ways to do bubble and squeak. In simple terms it’s a dish of leftovers. Potatoes mashed and mixed with the other leftovers from a big roast dinner – typically, Christmas dinner. Cabbage is a must, but practically anything else is fine! Meat, veg, even stuffing! You can keep it a delightfully rustic muddled pile of half soft, half crisp ingredients. Or, as I will suggest, you can form it into delicate patties. I also definitely recommend the addition of apples – leftover or not, the offer the lovely sweetness into an otherwise quite starchy, savoury dish.
- Leftover potatoes – while you will need to mash them, leftover roasts work great as they already come with a crust of roasts. Just rough ’em up nice and good.
- Cabbage – I used red, but any is good. Roughly 1/3 volume of potatoes.
- Shredded Apple – 1/2 volume of cabbage
- Salt and Pepper
- Earthy herbs – sage, thyme, rosemary
- Any and all other leftovers – chopped roughly
- In a bowl combine the potato, cabbage, apple and any other leftovers by mashing into a cohesive mixture. Season with salt and pepper, and a few sprinkles of your chosen herbs, taking into account any prior seasoning you did on the initial cook of leftovers.
- Put a generous glug of oil into a frying pan, then add your mash mixture. It’ll be slow going at first, especially if these were leftovers from the fridge. They need to gradually come up to temperature. For this to happen evenly, keep it moving, using a spatula to bring from the bottom up to the top and generally keep pushing the mixture together.
- Once it has sufficiently warmed take a slightly more cautious approach. Keep the heat on medium and leave it for a minute or so before disturbing. Use your spatula to flip, trying to keep any crust that is forming vaguely intact. However, if it gets a bit mixed in this is good – you aren’t making a basic potato cake, here. You want a bit of crunch inside too.
- Once it has warmed and beginning to crust, gently form into burger sized patties with the spatula after each flip. The shape will be pretty loose at first, but keep at it and it’ll begin to hold as the potatoes cook more and the crustification grows stronger. If it really isn’t working, don’t worry! As I said, this is also lovely served as more of a general mound.
Serve however you like! Some enjoy it as part of a full English in place of hash browns, some add it to Boxing Day sandwiches. I honoured its roast roots and served with some greens and gravy.