Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bubble and Squeak

bubble and squeakMy dad went back to Ireland last night after a month-long stay with us. It's nice to get my house back to myself, nice not to have to be on "best behaviour" and consider the needs of another person all the time. But I miss him already. The weather is dark and cold and wet and blowy here, and the weatherman says it's going to stay like that for several days at least. I'm tired. I have a bit of a headache. I badly need some comfort food.

Last night I made a special meal for the last dinner of dad's visit. We had big Yorkshire puddings the size of plates, filled with mashed potatoes and good sausages and roast butternut squash and gravy. There are leftovers of all those things in the fridge, except the Yorkshire pudding. I decide to make some bubble and squeak, or ca'ad waarmed up as it's called in the North East of England.

I put some butter in a big frying pan and when it is melted I add the leftover veggies and chopped up cooked sausage. The ingredients don't matter - there should be something potatoey, and ideally something cabbagey and something meaty, but you can make it with any leftovers at all. I press the ingredients down with the back of a wooden spoon and let them fry until I think they have started to go brown on the bottom. Then I stir it all up again, press it down, and leave it again. I keep doing this until it is hot all through, with brown bits mixed up with the rest of it. It smells indescribably fantastic - one of the best smells in the world. But you have to be patient. Bubble and squeak isn't just reheated leftovers. What would be so great about that? It's the caramelised golden bits that make it irresistible.

When it is hot all through, with brown (really quite dark brown - be brave. If a few bits are actually black that's no bad thing) bits all through, I press it down one final time and leave it in the pan. This is the test of your nerve. You have to leave it until the bottom is brown and slightly hardened. Soft mashed potato and squash and sausages are transformed into an object that can hold itself together when you turn it out onto the plate. You can't see when it's ready, you just have to judge the right time to hold the plate over the pan, then quickly flip them over so the bubble and squeak falls onto the plate in a beautiful round brown cake.

Mine doesn't do that. To be honest, it rarely does. Usually something sticks and needs scraping out of the pan. It doesn't matter. It tastes delicious either way. I eat mine in front of the TV with a pot of tea.

This is health food. Yes it is. It is. It's mental health food. I feel better, anyway.

11 comments:

Artela said...

Strictly speaking the bubble and squeak is just the potato and cabbage... mmm... bubble and squeak

tory said...

we call this hash and it is made with lots of leftovers but potato and onion are staples.

If you make it with leftover corned beef, cabbage, potato, onion, it is called red flannel hash. I love it.

Mam said...

Wahhhhh... I love it and used to always eat it on boxing day but none of my kids will touch the stuff so I don't bother now. I've never added meat before that sounds a good idea.
I love leftovers as good mental health food too - It feels as if by cooking the day before so I get decent food without much effort someone (i.e. me!) is loving and taking care of me.
Hazel xx

Bill of Ballaugh said...

Caad waamed up was always served every Monday, when I was a lad. It was the remains of the Sunday roast with the veg (extra was always cooked) fried with raw onions in the meat drippings. It was easy and quick, as it had to be on Mondays, as this was washing day, with steaming boilers, poss tubs and poss sticks and red marbled arms wringing out sheets, and finger-catching mangles racing around hand-driven by mothers with young, crying children hanging off them, offended by the lack of attention from their busy mothers. As the eldest in a large family, and a boy at that, I kept well out of the way, across the fields or down in the woods until the cry of "Foooooooooooooood!" came winging to the willing ear.
Thanks for a lovely holiday, Mel. I'm missing you and the grandkids already.

Shropshire Girl said...

Bubble & Squeak, lovely with a salt and pepper and a good dollop of tomato ketchup!

I gather Bill is your father, what a wonderful descriptive way with words he has. Has he ever written more about his childhood? It sounds like it would be well worth reading.

Anonymous said...

Bubble and squeak in Lancashire/Manchester does include meat. It's a dish made with the leftovers of a roast dinner, so there is always meat even if it's only scraps, and maybe gravy too.

Your dad is a great writer - maybe he should do some guest blogging? ;)

Artela said...

Well, my gran is from Lancashire, and she never includes meat in hers :-)

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