With bacon & beans
Update: It’s Christmas Eve 2012 and I’ve made Bubble’n'squeak using leftover Brussels sprouts. Glad I did, too, as they really were delicious for a quick and easy lunch. It’s the perfect way of using up most cooked leafy greens including Savoy cabbage, Spring greens or kale, to mention a few. This, admittedly, is the first time for me to go with using Brussels sprouts, as well as some finely chopped Little Gem lettuce (a small variety of romaine). Although the latter left these cakes that bit more difficult to shape. Especially as egg is never used in Bubble’n'squeak to bind. However, their slight crunch and flavour really added to them. The dark green patches (in the photo above), btw, are leaves of sprouts – not burnt patches! Anyway, within the same post I’m going with two versions.
As I’ve been gorging on so much meat recently I really needed to have a couple of days off and eat mostly vegetarian food. And no more pan-fried goodies after this recipe for a while. Growing up we were very seldom allowed fried foodstuff, so as an adult my system just can’t cope with lots of meatballs and burgers, even though I now realise why so many people love them. So, an easy, light and wholesome summery Med type stew tomorrow. Even though it’s not exactly hot outside. Whilst many countries in Europe will hopefully be basking in temperatures of 30°C (86°F) plus it’s still a very breezy 17°C (62.6°F), at best, here by the coast. Nice though. Certainly not complaining, for a change.
This post was supposed to be about frying an egg for a series of posts I’ve been wanting to do on the Full English Breakfast. Until I shallow-fried the last egg I had in my cupboard yesterday and it turned out to be undoubtedly one of the worst looking eggs I’ve seen. Mine normally turn out beautifully. That’ll have to wait until next week, then. As I wanted to use up leftover Spring greens I thought bubble and squeak would be just great. I’ve never bothered to make it before. And yet, when I used to work in Camden Town market invariably this would’ve been ordered when I had the chance of grabbing a large sit-down breakfast. Especially during winter months as standing outside for long periods is hard work. Even harder on an empty stomach.
Anyway, traditionally this would be made as a round cake and slices eaten when needed. It’s one of those dishes, and lots of countries have their own version of, that is great for using up leftovers. And normally made with seasonal greens, including roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts, peas and Savoy cabbage. It’s very typically part of an English breakfast these days, usually eaten with bacon and sausages. In cafés it’s normally made with Savoy cabbage and served like a steak, and about the same thickness. As I don’t have the luxury of a well seasoned heavy-based frying pan/skillet I had to go smaller with this. As for the measurements it’s supposed to be made with an equal volume of potatoes to greens, not weight. There is a Southern Irish version called Colcannon (sounds wonderful) that includes mashed potatoes and kale (or cabbage), with scallions, butter, salt and pepper added. And Scotland have their version, too. Yet, I’ve never seen this on a café menu in Northern Ireland. There, leftover potatoes are usually made into potato bread, called Fadge where I come from – even more delish!
- up to 500g (17.63 oz) x salad potatoes (I’m using Charlotte), scrubbed and boiled in lightly salted water, or leftover potatoes
- up to 100g (3.52 oz) x Spring greens (or leftover greens), washed, shredded and cooked in lightly salted water until soft
- rapeseed or olive oil
- flour, for coating
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- If you have leftovers then add them to a large bowl and mix thoroughly. With wet hands grab a large handful and shape roughly into a steak like shape, or a rectangle, about 2cm (0.78 “) in thickness. If necessary coat them in flour before shallow-frying. Otherwise, get a heavy-based frying pan or skillet on electric heat No 3 (out of 6) and allow to get hot before adding oil. When pan is hot and the pieces are ready add a good glug of oil and carefully place the bubble and squeak in. About 5 minutes on each side should get them nicely golden and crispy on the outside.
- If, like me, freshly boiled potatoes and Spring greens are to be used then keep the potatoes whole and in their skin as otherwise most of their nutrients disappear. When nicely cooked, drain and allow to cool. With the Spring greens I only boiled them for 3 – 5 minutes, drained them and added a good glug of olive oil to their pan, put them back on heat No 1 and left them for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool and add them to the potatoes, mashing them as you go. Follow the instructions above about shaping and shallow-frying them.
Second version, using cooked and leftover Brussels sprouts:
- olive oil
- 400g x (14.11 oz) potatoes (I’ve used Maris Peer), scrubbed and boiled (after peeling them I was left with 340g or 11.99 oz)
- 100g (3.52 oz) x cooked (mine were pan-fried) Brussels sprouts, sliced into smaller pieces
- 20g (0.70 oz) x Little Gem lettuce (small variety of romaine), washed and finely chopped – optional
- 10g (0.35 oz) x butter, melted (not for vegans)
- single/light cream, about a tablespoon or less (as the mixture should not be wet)
- seasoning, especially freshly ground black pepper (I used about 10 grinds)
- plain flour (all purpose), to coat the cakes
- As my Brussels sprouts were only partially cooked I added them to a large heavy-based pan or skillet on electric heat No 2 (out of 6) with the butter and pan-fried them until soft.
- If the sprouts are already cooked simply melt the butter in a saucepan.
- If the potatoes need to be boiled get them into a large saucepan with enough lightly salted water to cover. Put on heat No 4 and bring them to a boil, reduce heat to No 2, add a lid and simmer until they’re easily pierced with a fork. Take off heat, strain through a metal colander and when cool enough peel them. Add them to a large suitable bowl and mash. Add the sprouts, melted butter, the finely chopped lettuce if using, pour over a little cream (the mixture shouldn’t be too wet), grind over some black pepper (I used about 10 grates) and mix thoroughly. With wet hands grab about a tablespoonful of the mixture, press quite firmly to rid any air then start to shape into cakes about 7.5 cm (3 in) x 2 cm ( in) thick. Sprinkle flour over a suitable clean surface, place each cake unto the flour, the sprinkle some flour over them.
- Put a large heavy-based pan or skillet on heat No 3. When pan is hot add a good glug of olive oil. Using a fish slice carefully add the cakes to the pan and allow about 5 minutes for each side. Cook for a little longer to get them nicely golden, if necessary.
All photographs within Feed the piglet:
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