I was rummaging through the freezer chests of a leading supermarket chain recently and I discovered to my horror little blocks of frozen bubble and squeak. What has happened to our life-style that permits us to pay lots of money for a snack that should properly be made from left-overs?
Anyway, I bought one and it wasn’t bad, but it did set me thinking about the times when things like bubble and squeak, fishcakes and rissoles were a regular part of my childhood diet, and enjoyable because of the skill that went into cooking them. And the reason they were good was that some simple and elementary rules were followed. For example, bubble and squeak was made of chopped-up cold Brussels sprouts or cabbage mixed with an equal amount of cold mashed potato, well seasoned with salt and lots of pepper.
Its brilliant taste was a direct result of our impecunious family state because, to stretch the budget, off-cuts of smoked bacon were bought from the butcher which were, of course, very cheap but also very, very fatty, and every time the bacon was fried this fat was saved and used to cook the bubble and squeak. Our bubble and squeak was cooked flat in a big frying pan until there was a golden brown crust. Then it was turned over on to a plate and slid back into the pan to brown and crisp the other side. So if you want to enjoy this delicacy, you’d better keep a lot of good bacon fat in your larder.
© 1988 Keith Floyd estate. All rights reserved.