Bubble and Squeak

    Spotlight 7/2020
    Bubble and Squeak
    © Kathrin Koschitzki
    Von Lorraine Mallinder

    Bubble and squeak is the essence of English common sensegesunder Menschenverstandcommon sense, made with leftoversEssensresteleftovers from the Sunday lunch. Long enjoyed on otherwise drearytrostlos, langweiligdreary Monday nights, this hot potato-and-cabbageKohlcabbage hashGehackteshash, with the outside a delicious crispy brown, provides all the sustenanceNahrung, Nährwertsustenance you need to keep calm and carry on.

    But why “bubble and squeak”? The curious name seems more suited to mice than mashBrei, Püreemash — and there are probably thousands of pet rodentNagetierrodents called Bubble and Squeak up and down the country. In fact, the name comes from the sound the ingredients make while cooking.

    Yes, mashed potato bubbles in the frying pan. And cabbage apparentlyanscheinendapparently squeaks. The name is recorded in the Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, a seminalbahnbrechendseminal work on British slang created in 1785 by lexicographer Francis Grose. Back then, though, bubble and squeak also contained beef. to fast-forwardvorspulenFast-forward to 1951, with Britain recovering from the hungry war years, and food bible Good Housekeeping magazine had officially thrown out the meat.

    Simple it may be, but this is a dish good enough for royalty. King George IV, who to reignregierenreigned from 1820 to 1830, was known for his extravagant lifestyle and tastes, including fancyausgefallenfancy French food. Historians, however, say he had a secret passion for good old bubble and squeak. It’s said that Marie-Antoine Carême, the celebrated French chef who cooked for George before he to ascendbesteigenascended the throne, gave up his job in disgustangewidertin disgust, refusing to cook such bourgeoisbürgerlichbourgeois dishes.

    Although it’s made from leftovers, bubble and squeak deserves more than minor culinary status. This dish once had its very own tool — a scraperSchaber, Spachtelscraper that looks like something you might use to lay tilesFliesen verlegento lay tiles. Unusually shaped, the handle is raised from the bladeKlinge, Blattblade, making it easy to to chophackenchop vegetables, press the mash into the sizzlingzischendsizzling butter and to scrapeauskratzenscrape the crispy brown bits from the base of the (ideally cast-ironGusseisencast-iron) pan.

    But that’s enough talk of leftovers. Surely, after centuries of satisfying English appetites, bubble and squeak can now be held up as a dish in its own right — not just a hand-me-down-hashwiederaufgewärmtes Pfannengerichthand-me-down hash. And who says you have to wait until Monday to enjoy it? In these uncertain times, we could all do with a bit more bubble in our lives. Just don’t buy the microwave version! It won’t have the same effect.

    Practical and adaptable, bubble and squeak can be enjoyed in many ways. I always put a fried eggSpiegeleifried egg on top of mine. The runnyflüssigrunny egg yolkEigelbyolk seems to work well with the crispy coatingSchichtcoating. You might want to pour some gravyBratensoßegravy over it — or simply add an extra bit of butter. It’s also delicious with bacon or bratwurst. And, of course, what better way to wash it all down than with an extra-large cup of strong tea?


    •    80 g butter (unsalted)
    •    120 g chopped onion (optional)
    •    500 g mashed potato
    •    500 g boiled and chopped cabbage 
    •    any chopped, leftover vegetables (Brussels sproutsRosenkohlBrussels sprouts recommended)
    •    salt and pepper 
    •    4 eggs


    Mix together the potato, cabbage and vegetables and shape into small pattiesFrikadellenpatties. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and quickly add the chopped onion. Cook over a gentle heat for a few minutes until soft. Turn up the heat and add the patties, flipping over frequently for at least ten minutes and pressing them into the pan. When the patties are heated through, fry for one more minute on each side until they are crispy and brown. While the patties are browning, fry the eggs (use the same pan if it’s big enough). Serve with the fried eggs on top.

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