Bubble, Squeak, and Oink

Potatoes and cabbage are a natural combination and a staple throughout the British. Each country has its own version: Colcannon in Ireland, Cawl Cennin a Thatws in Wales, Rumbledethumps in Scotland, and the onomatopoeic Bubble and Squeak in England. Traditionally breakfast food made from dinner leftovers, including meat or fish, Bubble and Squeak today it is generally purpose-made without meat.  But it still is an important part of a full English breakfast. In this whimsically named version I have put the meat back into the dish and made it into a one-dish dinner entrée. Clarissa Dickson Wright, co-star of the BBC’s Two Fat Ladies, has three admonitions for making bubble and squeak (from Cooking with the Two Fat Ladies (New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1996) 97):

“1) There is no substitute for lard or beef drippings – if you object, eat something else.

“2) You need a really heavy frying pan.

“3) The potatoes must be cold before you start.”



Potatoes, peeled and diced

1 pound

450 grams


2 tablespoons

30 grams

Ham or English bacon, diced

4 ounces

100 grams

Onion, sliced ¼-inch (6mm) thick

4 ounces

100 grams

Cabbage, coarsely shredded

4 ounces

100 grams

Salt and pepper

to taste

to taste


Put the potatoes in salted water and boil until soft, about 12 minutes. Drain and cool to room temperature.

When the potatoes are cold, melt ½ of the lard in a 10-inch (25 cm) cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat. Sauté the ham or bacon until it begins to crisp then add the onions. Continue cooking until they soften, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cabbage and stir to coat with the fat then turn the heat to medium, cover, and steam for about 3 minutes or until bright green. Turn the heat back to medium-high and put the potatoes into the skillet. Using a heavy spatula press the potatoes into the fat, mashing them coarsely and mixing them with the meat and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Distribute the remaining lard over the top and turn the potatoes over to crisp the other side. Serve immediately.

Serves two as an entrée.


3 responses to “Bubble, Squeak, and Oink

  1. Loni.Found.Herself October 11, 2011 at 14:39

    I love Bubble & Squeak (a holdover from my year living abroad in England) but have never attempted to make it. This looks wonderful. I think I’ll give it a whirl sometime.

  2. trixfred30 October 11, 2011 at 15:24

    ‘There is no substitute for lard or beef drippings – if you object, eat something else’. Damn right – I’m sick of olive oil!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: