Traditional Bubble and Squeak Recipe

Bubble and Squeak. Photo © British Leeks
  • 20 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins,
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: Serves 2
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Traditional bubble and squeak is the lovely, quirky name for what is essentially fried left-over vegetables, usually from Sunday lunch, which is why bubble is so popular on a Monday.  

The origins of the cute name are not known, but a reference is made in the "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1785," that "Bubble and Squeak, beef and cabbage fried together. It is so called from its bubbling up and squeaking while over the fire."

Traditionally the bubble and squeak will be eaten on a Monday for lunch or dinner, sometimes with a fried egg on top, maybe a little bacon, or meat leftover from lunch the day before. There is no hard and fast rule to this one and no particular recipe it is simply a way of using up whatever you have left from dinner.

One main component which is always there is mashed potatoes. The potato is the "glue" holding all the other vegetables together. I love it made with cabbage as well if I have some of course. 

Bubble and squeak are also known as bubble or fry. In Ireland, colcannon is made from mashed potatoes, cabbage or kale, and onion and is very similar to bubble and squeak, as is ​rumbledethumps in Scotland.

What You'll Need

  • 6 tablespoons butter 
  • 1/2 cup/125 grams onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 lb. mashed potato
  • Any leftover vegetables, cabbage, swede, carrots, peas, Brussels Sprouts, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

How to Make It

  1. In a large frying pan melt the butter (you can also use vegetable oil, but we find butter tastes best), make sure it doesn't brown. Add the finely chopped onion and fry gently for about 3 minutes, or until soft and translucent.
  2. Turn the heat up ever so slightly and add the mashed potato and all of the chopped up leftover vegetables. Fry for at last 10 minutes turning them over continuously in the melted butter ensuring the potato and vegetables are thoroughly reheated.  Plus you are also aiming to brown the outside edges of the vegetables but not to burning the bubble and squeak, so occasionally press the mixture into the pan to brown a little then continue stirring.
  1. Finally, when the mixture is heated right through, do one long final press. Press the potato mixture onto the base of the pan with a spatula and leave to cook for 1 min. Flip over and repeat.
  2. Serve as mentioned above with either a fried or poached egg on top, the bacon pieces, or any leftover roast reheated thoroughly.

An alternative is to mix the potato and vegetables and form into small patties then fry as above. Bubble and squeak cakes also make a great side dish for any roast meats, or as mentioned earlier, topped off with a poached or fried egg.