Sunday, December 2

Bubble & Squeak - a forgotten classic?

My fridge was full of odds and sods and lacking cash and enthusiasm for something fancy, I decided to make a 'bubble and squeak'. My wife was delighted by the idea: "What....we are just having leftover vegetables for dinner on a Saturday night? Can't we have a take away? You had better make it taste bloody good!!!"

You know what? The end result was pretty much better than every meal the constituent vegetables had formed in their original incarnation. Paired here with a poached duck egg and some black pudding I found in the fridge, it was archetypal comfort food. Now you cannot just dog a load of vegetables in a pan and expect them to turn out well. There are rules and are some thoughts on making the most out of leftovers:

1) The mix of vegetables is unimportant as long as you have approx 1/3 starchy vegetables that will enable the mix to bind together e.g. spuds, squash, parsnips etc. Oh, and you need cabbage as that is the 'squeak' part.

2) Caramelised onions and Worcestershire sauce are essential. Do not leave them out.

3) You cannot skimp on the oil and butter - this is not a healthy dish, don't try and make it one.

4) First chop all the larger veg into small pieces, then run your knife through everything on a chopping board. Toss into bowl and season judiciously with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce.

5) Al dente vegetables are not a friend of bubble and squeak - make sure you fry out the mix long enough to yield a soft, well cooked vegetable mass.

6) Be aware of the three distinct cooking stages of the bubble and squeak:

a) The initial fry - to drive off excess water
b) The compress - squishing the vegetable matter into a cake so that it can crisp and brown
c) The flip - can't be done to early, you want that coloration and crisping

Now you are armed with all the information you need.....go make bubble.

Ingredients for Two People:
Cooked vegetables - 600g
1 large onion - peeled and very finely sliced
Worcestershire sauce - 1 to 2 tsp
Salt and pepper
Butter - 50g
Vegetable oil - a good slug

With your vegetables follow rules 1 and 4. In a large non-stick pan, gently fry the onions in half the butter and oil for 20 minutes or so until nicely golden and very soft. Mix in with your vegetables. 

Get the pan back on the stove and melt the remaining butter into the oil. Turn the heat up to medium high and toss in the seasoned vegetables. Spread them out evenly over the base of the pan and agitate occasionally. You are trying to drive off the excess water (and cook any al dente veg) so that they will start to brown and crisp. When you notice that some edges are starting to colour and crisp, give the mix a good stir and then compress the mix over the base of the pan using a spatula or fish slice. Now leave it for a few minutes so that you build up a nice golden crust can check progress by lifting an edge - you want to achieve the coloration in the photo. 

When you are there, flip it. Nothing spectacular, no pancake antics as it will fall apart. What you want to do is lift large bits of the bubble and flip over. You won't be able to do it 'in one' and quite frankly it matters not. When you have flipped the whole lot, compress back into a cake and cook for a few minutes longer to colour the other side. In total the cooking process takes about 20 minutes - serve with what you like.

1 comment:

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

I'm in for the bubble and squeak, but not for the black pudding!