Don’t worry if you have never heard about Bubble and Squeak – that just means you are not English, you don’t have any friends or family members that are English, and you have never lived in England, all of which is OK. But, if you know what Bubble and Squeak is, you are probably already smiling to yourself and licking your lips in anticipation.
My own links to England are mostly literary, as I adore Agatha Christie and Terry Prachett, and have a special place in my life for J.R.R. Tolkien, Jane Austen, A.A. Milne and Lewis Caroll, although I’ve also ingested a huge amount of TV shows, devouring every episode of Midsomer Murders, Inspector Morse, Inspector Lewis, Poirot, Miss Marple (with all different lead actresses), and Sherlock Holmes (with Jeremy Brett!) ever made. I also have a few English friends, who enjoy sharing their recipes with me, and that’s how Bubble and Squeak came up. With an adorable name like that I had to go for it.
Now, if I was naming this dish I would call it Leftover Mash, because that’s what it is. It is used in England to revive any leftover from a roast dinner or another large, formal meal that includes potatoes, meat and veggies. The leftovers are chopped up and fried together and apparently if you are using cabbage you will hear bubbling and squeaking.
For me, it was not a large amount of leftover that made me do it, it was my attempt to give way to give Brussels sprouts another chance. I grew up eating huge amounts of cabbage – it’s one of those cultural things mixed with practical where cabbage, and especially fermented cabbage (sauerkraut) can carry you through a rough and long winter at a time when fruits and veggies were a seasonal thing (those days are gone now, by the way, with year round availability of almost everything!). And I love cabbage, and many of it’s cousins, like cauliflower (which I used here, here), broccoli, kale (like in this soup), radishes, and many, many more. the cruciferous vegetables, as they are collectively known, are numerous and diverse, and include many things I like to eat… and there is the Brussels sprouts.
I tried Brussels sprouts several times before, mostly roasted and once boiled (never again on that one!), and was left unimpressed. But, when Bubble and Squeak was mentioned it sounded like I should give the Brussels another chance. And it worked! At the end, I am not at all sure that what I made qualifies as a traditional Bubble and Squeak, however it is a good dish for anyone looking to jazz up their potatoes, or use leftover cabbage or Brussels sprouts. I think it would probably work with leftover collard greens and spinach as well, and will probably work with leftover sweet potatoes or mashed squash.
Having said all that I did have to add one secret ingredient to make this work. My secret is bacon, or to be more precise Rice Paper Bacon. The recipe for this bacon is very similar to the one for Tofu Bacon, which I loved, so I jumped on the opportunity to give this new thing a try. The rice paper bacon worked well, it delivered on the bacon aroma, and it was very crispy, so perfect for sandwiches or similar. It also worked well with the Bubble and Squeak to add the aroma and a boost the flavor. At the end, I think tofu bacon would have worked better for this dish, but rice bacon gets big thumbs up for being a very good meat-free, homemade bacon alternative.
So with some boiled potatoes, boiled Brussels sprouts, diced onions, and rice paper bacon in hand, you will be ready for the Bubble and Squeak. All you need to do is fry it all together, or if you are a bit more health conscious sauté with only a tiny bit of oil to help everything come together. Although I have not done so myself this time around – I was in a bit of a time pinch – you can finish the dish in the oven. In retrospect, letting Bubble and Squeak sit under a broiler for less than five minutes would have given it a nice look and an interesting crunch. For those of you who are traditionalists, you are supposed to flip the whole thing half way through and brown both sides that way. I’d say, with just a bit of broiling you can skip the flipping. The whole thing is supposed to be able to slide out of the pan, but even if it doesn’t it’s still an interesting dish!
Bubble and Squeak
What you’ll need:
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1 red onion, finely diced
4 potatoes, boiled and mashed, or 2 cups of leftover mashed potatoes
2 lbs (900 g) or 1 stalk Brussels sprouts, boiled and chopped, 2-3 cups leftover roasted or boiled Brussels sprouts, chopped
1 cup crumbled rice paper bacon or finely chopped tofu bacon, store-bought or home-made
2 tablespoons oil, vegetable or canola
What you’ll do:
- In a heavy pan – oven proof if you plan to finish the dish under a broiler – heat the oil over the medium high heat. Add the onions and let them sauté until fully caramelized. This will take about 10 minutes. Note: if you are using store-bought “bacon”, chop it finely and add it now, so that it had time to render any fat, as well as brown. If you are using rice paper bacon you will add it towards the end of the cooking process.
- Add the mashed potatoes. If you are using the leftovers, you don’t need to worry about making mashed potato from scratch. But if you are making this dish de novo then peel, wash, chop into cubes and boil the potatoes for 30 minutes or so, than mash until rustic – no perfect smoothness required here.
- Add the finely chopped Brussels sprouts. Same as with the mashed potatoes, if you are using the leftovers just chop and drop, if you are starting from raw boil the sprouts for 15 minutes or so, drain and squeeze the access water out, then chop finely and add to the pan.
- Mix well until everything is well-incorporated.
- Decrease the heat to medium and let your bottom get crunchy, if not even slightly burned. Add the bacon bits, mix in gently without disturbing your crunchy bottom (no jokes, please!), then flip the Bubble and Squeak so that the top can brown, or stick the whole thing under a broiler without flipping. You can also skip the flipping/broiling and enjoy as is!
Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017