I encountered bubble and squeak shortly after college when I shared an apartment with my friend Judith, who had British parents—she introduced it to me. We were very economical back then, always looking for ways to stretch our food budget. We cooked ours with just mashed potatoes and fried cabbage, sometimes bacon.
The quirky and intriguing name of this British comfort food doesn’t give a clue to what it is! Most sources attribute it to the sound made when the ingredients hit a hot skillet. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, it goes back to the 18th century when it was made with leftovers from Sunday roast. Modern versions are often meatless and, like the Irish colcannon, almost always consist of potatoes and cabbage or kale, and are served as a side dish.
Make One Large or Many Smaller Patties
Bubble and squeak is commonly made into one big patty. Spread the vegetable mixture onto a large skillet. Once the bottom is golden brown, place a large plate upside down on top of the skillet and flip the patty onto it. To serve, use a large spoon to scoop portions.
Having said that, it’s also fine and easier to shape them into smaller patties. They are just the right size to top with a fried egg for individual portions. The texture will be a little firmer when you make your bubble and squeak smaller. I think that just makes it even more delicious!
Another way to cook bubble and squeak is to spread it out into an even layer and let it brown on the bottom. Then, fold it in half, flatten it again, and brown it some more. You can keep folding and browning it as long as you can stand it—my limit is 20 minutes. Then turn it out onto a big plate. It’ll be full of crispy browned bits.
Use Up Leftovers!
This dish was designed for leftovers and invites improvisation. Thinly sliced Brussels sprouts are a favorite along with any leftover green vegetable, like spinach, asparagus, and peas would be delicious, while simultaneously freeing up valuable real estate in your fridge! You couldn’t go wrong with bits of cooked turnip, parsnips, carrots, and even chopped bacon or ham.
Bubble and Squeak Any Time of Day
While it may have originally been popular as a side dish for supper alongside a roast, there’s no reason why this couldn’t be served for lunch or breakfast. Topped with a fried egg, it makes a fun and filling brunch. For lunch or a light supper, serve it with a salad.
Got More Leftover Mashed Potatoes?
Bubble and Squeak
4 tablespoons plus 4 teaspoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 small (about 8 ounces) green or Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
1 bunch (about 8 ounces) lacinato kale, stemmed and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 cup water
2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
1/2 cup chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs
2 cups halved cherry or grape tomatoes, for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 300ºF.
Once you’ve fried the bubble and squeak, you will put it in the oven to keep warm while you fry the eggs.
Cook the cabbage, kale, and onions:
In a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned.
Add the cabbage, kale, salt, and 1/4 cup water. Cook, stirring often, for 5 to 6 minutes, until the cabbage and kale are wilted and tender. If the vegetables seem dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Combine the potatoes and vegetables:
In a large bowl, add the cooked vegetables, mashed potatoes, grated carrots, parsley, and black pepper. Mix to combine well. Taste and add more salt if you’d like.
Heat the skillet:
You can use the same skillet if you'd like. Set it over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons butter.
Meanwhile, shape the mixture into four patties:
Divide the vegetable mixture into four even portions. Use your hands to shape each into patties that are about 4 inches in diameter, pressing the mixture together firmly.
Cook the patties:
When the butter is melted, add the patties into the skillet. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes on one side, until the bottoms are golden brown. Carefully flip them and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, until they are browned. Transfer the skillet into the oven to keep them warm while you fry the eggs.
Fry the eggs:
Wipe the same skillet and set it over low heat and add the remaining 4 teaspoons butter. When the butter is melted, break one egg into a small bowl and transfer it to the skillet. Add the remaining eggs the same way. Cover the skillet with a lid and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes, until all but a thin rim of egg white is opaque.
Remove the skillet from the heat, keep the lid on, and let sit for 30 to 45 seconds to allow the eggs to finish cooking.
Remove the bubble and squeak from the oven and transfer them onto serving plates. Top each with a fried egg, sprinkle with parsley, and serve with cherry tomatoes on the side if you’d like.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or tightly sealed in a zip top bag in the freezer for up to 1 month. Defrost it in the refrigerator overnight and reheat it in a lightly oiled skillet.
Did you love the recipe? Leave us stars below!
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 25g||32%|
|Saturated Fat 12g||60%|
|Total Carbohydrate 28g||10%|
|Dietary Fiber 5g||20%|
|Total Sugars 4g|
|Vitamin C 56mg||278%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|