As Pippa Hunnechurch makes abundantly clear in The Second Mile, she doesn’t like bubble and squeak — the classic old English concoction of cabbage and potatoes fried together. The dish was invented to give leftover potatoes (a staple food too valuable to throw away) a new lease on life; the odd name is supposed to echo the sounds of frying vegetables (possibly with the added sizzle of frying boiled beef, which may have been one of the original ingredients).
When Janet Benrey makes bubble and squeak she follows a recipe provided by Chloe, Pippa’s sister, however she prefers to use fresh (rather than leftover) ingredients. This simple recipe serves six. It builds on the traditional English version and can be “enhanced” and “modified” to suit your whims or your tastebuds. Here’s Ron’s take on the final product: “Bubble and squeak is an interesting side dish that makes a nice change from the more familiar potato recipes. I’m convinced, however, that the name refers to the sounds that people make after eating it.”
- Cooked potatoes — approximately 1 pound, sliced (mash the potatoes for a more traditional bubble and squeak)
- Onion — a medium onion, finely chopped
- Cabbage — small head, cut coarsely (chop the cabbage finer for a more traditional bubble and squeak)
- Butter — 3 tablespoons
- Cooked bacon, cooked ham, or boiled beef — optional (you can add a few ounces of almost any meat to “beef up” the recipe)
- Paprika — a few sprinkles for some taste (plus a nice touch of color)
- Salt and pepper — to taste
Parboil the cabbage in a small amount of water, in a saucepan, until it softens. Drain on a paper towel. Melt the butter in a heavy, iron skillet. Fry the chopped onion until it softens, stirring frequently. Add the cooked potatoes and the parboiled cabbage, and toss in optional meat. Season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Fry over medium heat until nicely browned.