I love leftovers. With all the heavy cooking already done, I can enjoy each dish without wanting everything at once on the Thanksgiving Day table. A whole spread loaded with so many of my all-time favorites can be overwhelming and will most assuredly lead to overeating, which is where bubble & squeak comes in. And, no, I’m not talking about indigestion, but about the clever British dish created specifically for leftovers.
Mashed potatoes, while so perfectly delicious when they’re all buttery and hot, don’t usually get grabbed with fork in hand the way leftover stuffing might. But with some chopped vegetables, a little patting and shaping into plump little potato cakes and fried, you may end up wishing you had even more leftovers.
And then there are brussels sprouts. I can’t imagine why some people don’t love them. Maybe it’s because they’ve never tried them sauteed with bacon and shallots. It’s likely you might have a couple leftover to add to your bubble and squeak cakes. Although cabbage is the most traditional ingredient added to the mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts would be my first choice, especially with the added bacon bits. Chopped carrots, broccoli or kale would also be excellent additions to the mix.
You may be wondering, as I did, how they came up with the silly name, bubble & squeak — which, by the way, if you say it with a British accent, it sounds much more proper. The story goes the name was inspired by the sound of the potatoes and cabbage cooking in the frying pan. While there was more bubbling than squeaking going on when I made it, saying bubble & squeak is way more fun than just plain old potato cakes.
I’m not going to give you a complete recipe since the point is to use whatever leftovers you have on hand. Here’s a link to a recipe from BBC. Just thinly slice or chop your vegetables and mix them in a bowl with leftover mashed potatoes. Form them into cakes, dipping into flour on each side. You can dust off excess flour but it tends to be absorbed into cake so don’t worry about it. Fry in a skillet of hot oil for a couple of minutes on each side until perfectly browned.
I love them straight out of the frying pan, all golden and crispy, but you can also make them in advance then reheat for about 15 minutes at 375 degrees.
I know, I know, we haven’t even had Thanksgiving dinner and I’m already planning for the leftovers. If you’re reading this on Wednesday, just make a mental note and come back again on Friday. Tomorrow you’ll have more important things to do.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!