Bubble and squeak is the funny name given to a dish made of leftovers from a British roast dinner. Leftover mashed potato is mixed with leftover cabbage and cooked in butter.
What’s in a name? The name has 2 meanings. The one I know is that it came from the sounds the ingredients make as they cook, the other (which I’m no so sure about) is the noises your stomach makes after eating it.
If you’re familiar with British cockney rhyming slang (if you’re not you will have to do a Google search to know what I’m talking about), Brits often refer to Greeks as Bubbles (as in bubble and squeak = Greek).
It is said that the dish originates back to 1770 and originally contained meat, boiled beef actually. It wasn’t until around 1951 that the meat was omitted and only potatoes and vegetables started to be used and that has carried on until now.
Bubble and squeak is very similar to Irish colcannon which is a mix of mashed potato and cabbage, bubble and squeak is cooked again after mixing, where colcannon is served more like mashed potato.
Depending on what you had for your roast dinner, there’s any combination of ingredients that can be used but there must be potato as the main ingredient. How I was taught to make it by my mother is, after mixing it all gets put in a pan with melted butter and cook until the potato is browned. Now, this does not make for prettiest of dishes when made this way. For the sake of presentation, I form the mix into patties and shallow fried in a pan. Food should look appetizing after all.
If you don’t have the leftovers to make this dish, I have been known to make the potatoes and cabbage just so I can enjoy this dish. There’s no real traditional way to serve bubble and squeak but on this particular occaision I made British bangers and gravy.