British Bites: Bubble and Squeak, Without the Leftovers

Editor's note: Please welcome our new British Bites recipe column by a familiar voice around these parts, Miss. Oland. Up first: bubble and squeak of course! —The Mgmt.


[Photograph: Sydney Oland]

Times of need call for resourcefulness and creativity, and it is out of that need that bubble and squeak was born. Bubble and squeak became popular during the Second World War when rationing was in effect throughout Britain and the need to stretch every morsel of food was a necessity. Taking whatever was left after a roast and frying into a cake (or sometimes hash) made those leftovers into an entirely new meal without wasting anything from the previous dinner. The squeaking and popping of the bubble and squeak hitting the hot fat in of the frying pan is how this dish got its name.

It's traditionally served with leftover gravy, but today it is more common to find bubble and squeak sitting next to fried eggs on a brunch table. Whether it is part of a traditional English breakfast with all the trimmings or a simple weekend meal over a pot of tea and a paper, bubble and squeak can quickly and easily become a part of your repertoire without the use of any leftovers.

Although the roots of bubble and squeak stem from whatever is on hand, most modern versions involve a mashed or roasted potatoes and cabbage. And while having the leftovers from a lovely roast supper is a very fortunate position to be in, it may not be one you find yourself in very often. But don't be concerned; using a few ingredients, this classic dish can be brought together in about half an hour.

This version of bubble and squeak uses Brussels sprouts in place of the more traditional cabbage. Brussels sprouts cook quickly and have a delicate flavor, making this recipe even more suited for a morning meal. Halving, then removing the core of the sprouts lets the leaves fall gently apart while being sautéed with butter and onions and gives a delicate consistency to the final cake. After mashing the potatoes and folding in the sprouts, all that is left is a quick dusting in flour followed by some time in a frying pan, and you've got an English classic ready to take its proper place at the table.

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Bubble and Squeak, Without the Leftovers