Everyone keeps on reminding me it’s not winter. As far as I’m concerned if I have to wear a jumper before 6pm it is winter. So as I snuggle up, on this Sunday afternoon in my vintage fleece, I think of all the warming dinners I could rustle up. I know a Sunday dinner is tradition, but I don’t think I’ve done anything remotely traditional since my last confession five years ago. And that was in an underground chapel. Hardly a conventional place of worship. In all my contemplation I decide upon a perfectly filling easy dinner. Some would say this is more of an accomplice to a larger dinner, but for me it’s easily a strong independent candidate. It’s also a nice nod to my Irish ancestors, although that obviously won’t source appeal to everyone. Bubble and squeak is a filling, quick, easy, cheap dinner. It’s also easily adaptable to different dietary requirements, so just leave out whatever necessary. It’s a very forgiving recipe you see. What more could you want?
To make these perfectly starchy patties you will need a few simple ingredients. Even better you can use leftovers from yesterdays roast dinner so nothing goes to waste! I tend to go for about ¾ mash potatoes, to ¼ cabbage, or other vegetables. But as long as you’ve got more mash than veg then you’ll be fine. I prefer a slightly chunky mash to a smooth mash for this so you get crisp potato nuggets like with hash browns. Roughly chop your cabbage and any other greens, and add to your mash. A small chopped onion and a fat garlic clove is always a welcome addition too. If you want to add meat, do so now. Meat from your old roast is preferable but bacon also works well. Add some salt to taste and a generous grind of black pepper.
Now your batter is all done, heat up a pan on a medium heat with some fat saved from a previous roast dinner. Or use a vegetable oil depending on the crowd. Once warm add generous dollops of the mixture to the pan. Flatten out slightly with the back of a spoon and let them sizzle for a good few minutes. Once the edges are a warm brown you should be ready to flip. Don’t panic if it starts to crumble, this is a loose mixture compared to a Spanish omelette or onion bhajis. Add a lid to your pan once flipped over. This will allow the thicker middle to cook whilst the underside browns up nicely. After another few minutes, your bubble and squeak should be perfectly crisp on each side, and ready to be bathed in a generous pouring of gravy. When cooking for one I tend to make a small teacup of gravy, but on especially cold days I might indulge in a helping of Lingham’s chill sauce.
For me this is a perfect winter warmer. In summer I enjoy carefully arranging graceful plates of kaleidoscopic beauty. But in winter I yearn for speedy rugged dinners, quick to fill and warm my achy body. And for me bubble and squeak ticks all those boxes. On one last note, if like me you’re especially lazy come winter, keep a few frozen ready for a quick cozy fix.