Why do people make a big deal out of bubble and squeak? Perhaps because we live in an age where the idea of using leftovers creatively has vanished. The very name is off-putting, leftovers - second-hand, second-rate, pre-used. Nonsense, of course.
Bubble and squeak was originally invariably served on Mondays, with reheated slices of meat from the Sunday joint A pretty unattractive prospect particularly when the meat and vegetables had been overcooked the first time round. The potato and cabbage cake would also have been cooked in beef dripping or lard.
This version is altogether more civilized and is particularly good with cold ham and fried eggs or with any grilled meat The potato should be quite dry and any greens will do, though I prefer spring greens or spinach to cabbage.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas6. Bake the bacon on a rack in the oven, then drain on paper towels and cut into small dice • Blanch the greens in a pan of boiling salted water for 2 minutes and refresh in cold water. Drain, pat dry and chop coarsely • Put the greens into a bowl with the mashed potato, bacon dice and egg and mix together with a fork to bind. Season with pepper and very little salt (the bacon should give all the salt needed) • Mould into 4 cakes and flour lightly.
Melt the butter with the oil in a frying pan over a low heat. When hot, gently put in the cakes. Do not push or turn, but leave for 10 minutes before turning over with a spatula. They will be crisp and brown. Fry the other side for 10 minutes. That’s it.
© 1993 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.