Monday, February 4, 2013


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I've always loved the idea of Bubble and Squeak (or Bubble 'n' Squeak), a traditional working-class British dish made with shallow-fried leftover vegetables from a roast dinner. Potato and cabbage (I prefer Savoy cabbage) are the norm, but carrots, peas, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cooked greens, or any other leftover vegetables can be used (a mix is good).  Basically a type of hash, the chopped vegetables are fried in a pan together with mashed potatoes or crushed roast potatoes until the mixture is well-cooked and brown on both sides. (The name comes from the bubbling and squeaking sounds made during the cooking process.) It not only makes a thrifty supper, but leftovers are good for breakfast, too.

According to my research, Bubble and Squeak is now eaten most frequently with just the leftover potatoes and vegetables (but often with animal fat), but originally it was more beef than potatoes. "1881 Leicester. Gloss. (E.D.S.) Bubble-and-squeak, slices of underdone beef fried and seasoned, laid on cabbage, boiled, strained,chopped, and fried in dripping."

"It turns out it didn’t begin life as fried mashed potato patties, but as something quite different. In "Economical Cook, and Frugal Housewife: An Entirely New System", Mary Holland – in 1837 – describes a recipe that makes use of leftover boiled beef, not potatoes. The beef should be thinly sliced and fried up with chopped boiled cabbage in butter and some salt and pepper. This recipe goes back as far as the mid-eighteenth century. Indeed recipes for it in this form run right up the mid-twentieth century. It cannot be a coincidence that the dish went from beef-based to potato-based at around the same time as the Second World War and rationing."

So, you have the option of adding cold chopped veggie-"meat", if you like (I used slivered seitan "turkey" this time, but some leftover plain-cooked beans would be a good addition, as well), but it's not necessary.

I used to make it once in a while in old meat-eating days, but, strangely, haven't made a vegan version until lately.  We had a vegan friend over for dinner and I made a vegan from-scratch version, of which we devoured over half in one sitting!  I chose to bake my vegan Bubble and Squeak in a very hot oven, ensconced in a parchment-lined 14-inch cast iron skillet, to avoid the frying and all the fat that involves.

This worked very well, but I realize that not everyone owns a giant cast iron skillet (and not everyone wishes to heft around a hot heavy pan!).  I had to transfer the Bubble and Squeak onto a round pizza pan (using the parchment) in order to flip it to the other side (using more parchment and  another pizza pan), and then hoist it into the skillet again, using the parchment.  So I am recommending what I will do next time-- just use 2 pizza pans (or baking sheets).

However you choose to do it, the potato "body" of the dish was nicely browned and crispy, full of tender broth-simmered Savoy cabbage and diced carrots, and sauteed onions and mushrooms.

This dish is traditionally eaten with what the Brits call "brown sauce", better known in North America as HP Sauce, but DH, of course, chose ketchup, and I was happy with vegan gravy.  NOTE: you can try making your own "brown sauce"-- here a couple of online recipes:  and

 Printable Recipe

Serves 4 to 6
You need two 13-inch round pizza pans and some baking parchment for this method. (You could also use two ordinary baking sheets, if necessary)  NOTE: If you aren't worried about fat, you can cook this in a large heavy skillet with some olive oil mix with a bit of dark sesame oil, frying the mixture in smaller "cakes" over medium heat until they are golden brown on the bottom, and then flipping them over and browning the other side.

3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks (more-or-less)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil (Optional-- omit if you are fat-free and see note in instructions)
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil  (Optional-- omit if you are fat-free and see note in instructions)
4 large mushrooms (any kind), halved and sliced
3/4 of a small Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced and then chopped about 1/2-inch long
1 large carrot, scrubbed, in 1/2-inch dice
(Note: peas, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, greens, or any other leftover cooked vegetables can be used instead)
3 cups vegetarian broth
OPTIONAL: about 1 1/2 cups slivered meat sub of choice, or plain-cooked beans, drained
1/2 tablespoon dried sage (not powdered)
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme leaves (not powdered)
salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 500 degrees F.

The next 3 steps can be done pretty much at the same time:

1.) Place the potatoes on to cook until tender, in whatever sort of steamer set-up you use.  I like to place them in a microwave-proof casserole, cover (no water necessary) and cook on high for about 10 minutes.

2.) While they cook, put the simmer the cabbage and carrots together with the broth in a covered pot just until tender.  Drain off the remaining broth.

3.) That done, heat the oils in a large heavy skillet and saute the onions over medium-high heat until they are softened and starting to brown.  Add the mushrooms and saute until they start to wilt. FAT-FREE NOTE:  You can omit the sauteing in oil by microwaving the onions in a microwave-safe covered casserole or dish until softened, and then browning them over high heat, along with the mushrooms, in a nonstick skillet until they begin to brown, adding a squirt of water, broth or white wine as needed to keep the mixture from sticking.

When all the above are done, dump the potatoes into a large, shallow bowl and coarsely mash them-- remember that you're not making mashed potatoes, though!  Add the cooked vegetables, and the herbs, and mash together, leaving it a rather rough mixture.

Add the protein option, if using.  This is what I used:

                                               Sliced seitan "turkey"

Taste the mixture for salt and pepper.  Line both pizza pans (or baking sheets) with baking parchment (no need to cut-to-fit; over-hang is good).

Scoop the Bubble and Squeak mixture in a mound onto one of the parchment-lined pizza pans (or baking sheets).  Press and shape it into a firm round "cake":

Spray the top of the "cake" with a little oil from a pump-spray bottle and place in the pre-heated oven.  Bake about 15 minutes, or until the bottom is nicely browned.  Remove carefully from the oven.  Place the second piece of baking parchment over the top of the Bubble and Squeak and the second pizza pan (or baking sheet) upside-down over that.  With one hand (in an oven mitt!) firmly under the bottom pan and one firmly in the middle of the top pan (and working over a counter or table), quickly flip it over, so that the browned side is on the bottom.  Remove the used pan and parchment, which are now on top.  Place the Bubble and Squeak back in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes more, or until the second side is nicely browned.

This one was photographed made in a cast iron skillet-- I changed the method to using pizza pans or baking sheets to make it easier to handle.
Cut the Bubble and Squeak into wedges and enjoy hot with HP Sauce ("brown sauce" in the UK), ketchup ("red sauce" in the UK), or vegan gravy (British cookbook author Nigel Slater recommends adding "a slug of Madeira" to the gravy).

Nutrition facts:
For 4 servings, with oil:
Nutrition (per serving): 269.9 calories; 22% calories from fat; 7.0g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 357.8mg sodium; 1429.7mg potassium; 48.9g carbohydrates; 5.1g fiber; 3.3g sugar; 43.8g net carbs; 6.8g protein; 5.2 points.
For 4 servings, without oil:
Nutrition (per serving): 210.0 calories; 0% calories from fat; 0.2g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 357.7mg sodium; 1429.7mg potassium; 48.9g carbohydrates; 5.1g fiber; 3.3g sugar; 43.8g net carbs; 6.8g protein; 3.4 points.

For 6 servings, with oil:
Nutrition (per serving): 179.9 calories; 22% calories from fat; 4.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 238.5mg sodium; 953.2mg potassium; 32.6g carbohydrates; 3.4g fiber; 2.2g sugar; 29.2g net carbs; 4.5g protein; 3.3 points.
For 6 servings, without oil:
Nutrition (per serving): 140.0 calories; 0% calories from fat; 0.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 238.5mg sodium; 953.1mg potassium; 32.6g carbohydrates; 3.4g fiber; 2.2g sugar; 29.2g net carbs; 4.5g protein; 2.1 points.



Nezumi said...

Low fat and comforting! Can't go wrong with that!
Can cabbage count as a portion of leafy green? If so, this is almost the perfect winter meal. It's so hard to find fresh greens in winter in my part of the country.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Cabbage definitely counts as a leafy green!

in2insight said...

Bryanna, your recipes never let me down. Thank you!
This one was a total success even with some changes. (Purple Cabbage, added peas, and due to lack of reading skills, baked in one dish rather than two)
Great flavors, chewy and crunchy, and all around yummy!

Kathryn said...

Oh. My. Goodness. Can't wait to make the sans oil version.

Nezumi said...

This was awesome! I even ate a few spoonfuls of the potatoe mixture before I put it in the oven... Ssshh! Don't the the boyfriend!
I was thinking it would be equally delicious with indian spices and chickpeas, kind of like a samosa casserole but without the delicious but sinful fried crust.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Nezumi, that is a fabulous idea-- after all, Indian food is ubiquitous in the UK!

Unknown said...

Some of us have it with Branston Pickle. Not sure if you can get that over there or if it is just a British thing.

Unknown said...

Some of us have it with Branston Pickle. Not sure if you can get that over there or if it is just a British thing.