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The Reinvention Of Bubble & Squeak

Bubble and Squeak has been a peasant recipe since the 18th Century and originates in Britain. At it’s very basic recipe it is potato and cabbage. The name then comes from the sound it makes when compacted in a pan and cooked at high temperatures. The squeaking of the cabbage is renown.

bubble and squeak
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Bubble & Squeak Recipe

This is our interpretation of the dish that food writer Harry Hillman describes as one of the ‘great peasant dishes of the World’. Not sure that we ever thought of it like that when growing up, but I guess those frugal leftover meals were not anything unusual.

Purists will say that the only ingredients in a traditional bubble and squeak should be mashed potato and cooked cabbage. Well that is all fine and good, but if we have leftovers that need using up, bubble and squeak is a great way to show those ingredients some love! This is why it became truly popular in the Second World War, with rationing becoming the reality for all households using up food was essential.

Bubble And Squeak Ingredients

  • 2 cups of cooked white potato (leftover from a previous meal is fine!)
  • 1 1/2 cups of chopped up cabbage (whichever is in season)
  • 1 cup of sorrel leaves (stalks removed and really squeezed into the cup)
  • Chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • a good pinch of Kosher salt and pepper.
cutting sorrel


  1. Mash your leftover potato and add salt and pepper liberally.
  2. Slice your sorrel by making it into rolled up cigars and cutting into thin slivers. This is a great way to handle all fresh herbs, but sorrel has a texture which is sort of a cross between spinach and usual tender stem herbs like basil.
  3. Combine your cabbage, onion and sorrel with your mashed potato. Mix thoroughly with a spoon and if needed you can use your hands (if you have kids this is a fun little cooking project)
  4. Heat the coconut oil in a wide pan on a high heat initially.
  5. Add your bubble and squeak mix and move it around the pan, turning the heat down once you hear that squeaking noise from the cabbage.
  6. Settle the bubble and squeak into the [an by pushing it down gently with your spatula. Leave for a further five minutes on a low to medium heat. It will steam a lot and possibly squeak a little too.
  7. Lift it to just check that it has browned a little and serve with pork chops or a nice dish of roasted vegetables.

This is comfort food at it’s finest. Totally a quick and easy meal to sit on the sofa and tuck into. It will help to reduce your household food waste and it really is a good meal for the budget conscious.

We grow our own sorrel so that makes it a free ingredient as it is a hardy perennial. Sorrel has a flavor that gives a real tangy hit of zest to any dish. This is really powerful so it needs to be coupled with other vegetables and you will find that a sweetheart cabbage will be just fine. Don’t go for a powerful flavor in the cabbage.

The red onion gives an element of sweetness that is really needed to lift it from the sorrel. You can add chopped chives to serve and this will bring a fresh allium flavor to your dish.

TOP TIP- This is a frugal tip for your kitchen that I have always followed. Make more than you need in order to have leftovers. So if you are having bangers and mash one night, cook twice the amount of mash as the energy required to boil the water will not double.

Bubble & Squeak Variations

This is where the real chefs will cringe and pull away, however it makes a simple dish a good idea for weeknights. You can mix it up and it takes around 20 minutes to make if you have leftover cooked potatoes. This ability to change a basic recipe gives you inspiration for those weeknights when you are running around doing 100 other things!

  • Add diced Chorizo to the pan before you add you bubble and squeak mix. Fry it down and you can treat it as you would do lardons.
  • Change your red onion for Spring Onions and you will give yourself a slightly sharper flavor in your bubble and squeak, cut up chives to garnish.
  • Using leeks in your bubble and squeak will give you a great dish ready for a creamy cheese sauce or to go with some glazed herby sausages.
  • Adding shredded courgette to the mix is a sneaky way to get more veggies into your kids diets.
  • If you add peas and any other leftover steamed vegetables, do it after the bubble and squeak has been moved around. If you are adding frozen vegetables, do this at the very start.
  • Adding cooked pumpkin to the basic mix will make it more pleasing to your Australian friends as this is how they would have bubble and squeak.
  • Cooked and mashed celeriac is a real game changer and this makes bubble and squeak perfect to accompany pheasant or any gamey meat.

Bubble and squeak goes well with pork chops, lamb shank, ratatouille or chicken dishes. There is no need to keep this humble dish humble, try to elevate it to one of your family favorites.

bubble and squeak with pork chops
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Further Reading & Suggested Articles

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