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Cooking, early-mid 20th Century

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How to make traditional, delicious bubble and squeak

Bubble and squeek - vegetables, sausages and stuffing fried together

Bubble and squeak is the name given to a fry-up of vegetables and other leftovers from a roast meal. The name comes from how it looks and sounds while cooking. This page discusses ingredients and explains how to use them for that great old-fashioned taste, just like Granny used to make. The method described here owes it origin to watching elderly relatives in the past, but is adapted for modern usage.

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By the webmaster, based on watching older people cook, informal discussions and years of practice

Why 'Bubble and Squeak' used to be such a popular meal

In the past when British families had a large joint of beef for the Sunday roast, extra vegetables were always included so that there would be plenty of leftovers for an easy fry-up main meal on Monday, which was always a very busy washday.

The ingredients

Bubble and squeak was always regarded as delicious - but that was almost certainly because of the ingredients that went into it. I like to think that my bubble and squeak is even better.

There is no recipe as such because it is largely a matter of using up leftovers - but read on for the best way of making it today, still with that good old-fashioned taste.

The fat for frying

Strictly speaking, traditional bubble and squeak is fried in the fat which oozes out of roast beef, during roasting, known as dripping. I freeze my dripping so that I can use some whenever I please, but use oil if you must. The result will still taste good, especially if you add some of the optional extras that I list below.

Whatever you do, don't use shop-bought beef dripping. I have tried it on several occasions when I have run out of my own dripping. It is completely different and has completely spoilt the taste of the bubble and squeak. I suspect it is because modern extraction methods have gone too far and take more than the fat from the beef, but of course I can't be sure.

The vegetables

Possible vegetables are any that go well with a roast meal, such carrots, broccoli, cabbage, etc.

For me, no bubble and squeak would be complete without left-over roast parsnips and roast sweet potatoes. Roast parsnips are traditional but sweet potatoes probably aren't, although they could be grown in a greenhouse. They are readily available in the shops today,

You may be surprised that my list of vegetables does not include cold roast potatoes. Superb as they are when just roasted and accompanying a roast meal, I don't use them in bubble and squeak as the skins go rubbery when cold and do not fry well. Cold boiled potatoes do work well, although they do not form part of usual roast meals and accordingly traditional bubble and squeak.

Optional extras for a tastier bubble and squeak

It is the following optional extras which contribute to my bubble and squeak's wonderful taste, even when beef dripping isn't available for frying.

Tasty as my gravy is, I do not include it because the ingredients do not fry well if damp. There is no reason, though, why reheated gravy cannot be added at the end of the cooking. I serve it in a jug so that people can help themselves.

Method

Bubble and squeak could not be simpler or quicker to cook because all the hard preparation was done previously for the roast meal.

Just cut up the solid ingredients into bite-size pieces and fry in the dripping or oil until crisp and hot, turning occasionally.

The frying may take several minutes because the vegetables are damp from their previous cooking and they must be fried until just crisp for good bubble and squeak. It is best to watch over them as it is all too easy for the vegetables to burn once their dampness is gone.

How to serve bubble and squeak

Serve piping hot when just crisping.

Let people add any gravy themselves as it is a matter of taste whether gravy enhances or spoils true bubble and squeak.

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased if you would contact me.

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sources: early 20th century material      sources: ww2 home front and other material     contact
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