Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bubble & Squeak - Potatoes and Cabbage

Have any of you heard of Bubble and Squeak? No? It's an English dish that I ate a few times growing up. My dad recently made it when we had a big family dinner and my Handsome Man said that it was one of the best things he has ever eaten. Of course, he loves to eat, and regularly says things are "the best" but I don't mind. It makes the cook feel good.
   Well, Bubble and Squeak is a dish made up of potatoes (usually mashed, but not always) and cabbage - sometimes (always in our house) containing some sort of meat. I grew up with it made with bacon (YUM!), but I used some Polska Kielbasa sausage this time. I was visiting my in-laws, and my father in-law said that he really liked a dinner of cabbage, Kielbasa and potatoes. I immediately thought of Bubble and Squeak and made it for him that night. Everyone seemed to enjoy it - especially my Handsome Man of course.
   I looked it up online, and google suggests that it's called Bubble and Squeak because of the noises it makes when you cook it "Bubble" when you boil the potatoes and "squeak" when you saute the cabbage- but I don't know. I guess it fits. The English like to name their dishes after the noises they make - hence Bangers and Mash (Sausage and Mashed Potatoes. Supposedly the sausage makes a "pop" or "bang" when you cook it.) I don't care why it is called what it's called. It's just good. (And with a name like Bubble and Squeak it makes the kids laugh - and me too, lets be honest.)
   It's a simple dish that tastes really good too. What more could you want?

Here's how I made mine this time (it's always a little different):

Put some washed potatoes in a pot, and cover with cold water.
You want potatoes that are all about the same size. My in-laws had red potatoes so that is what I used today, but I would traditionally use Russet potatoes. The little red ones were all about the same size, except one mondo one. That one got cut in half.

Put the pot of potatoes over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a medium low and cook until fork tender.
While the potatoes are cooking, I cut up one small head of cabbage (already washed of course).

Next came the sausage. Just one package of Polska Kielbasa. If I were using bacon, now is when I would cut that up into small pieces as well.

Just cut the sausage into even slices.

The cut sausage goes into a large skillet - cast iron is the choice today. You want a pan that will get really hot, and have an even distribution of heat. Cast iron is perfect for that. I added the sausage to a cold pan, and then turned the heat to medium high. This will cause the sausage to render some of it's fat into the pan and get the sausage pieces crispy.

While the sausage browns, I cut up one medium onion into dices.

The sausage should be browned by now (some are a little too browned, but it's o.k). Take the sausage out (or bacon if you are using that instead) and set it aside for later.

In the same skillet, add a little butter (if there's not enough fat in the pan already) and add the diced onion. Cook over medium heat until the onion starts to brown.

The potatoes should be done about now. I checked them with a fork and then drained them off.

Each potato was cut in half (I would cut them more if I were using russet potatoes, but these little red ones just need to be halved). When the onions are soft and brown, I pushed them to one side of the pan and put the potatoes, cut side down on the other side. I don't touch them. I just let them sit and get crispy in the hot butter and sausage drippings.

I needed to do two batches of potatoes because they didn't all fit in the pan at once. I put the crispy potatoes into the pot that I originally boiled the potatoes in. (No sense in dirtying another dish!)

See that potato right there? The one that's extra brown and crispy? ^^ That's what I like to see.
I stirred my onions, pushed them aside again and added my second batch of potatoes.

I added the sausage to the pot with the potatoes.

Then I dumped in the onions and the rest of the potatoes that were crisping in the pan.

Now that my cast iron skillet is free again, I added the cabbage (and a little butter too, of course).

Add a little salt, and over medium heat, just keep turning the cabbage around until it wilts down.

How long you cook your cabbage is up to you. I like it to be a little brown around the edges but still have a slight crunch. If you like it all soft, then keep cooking it until the texture is the way you like.

When the cabbage is done to your liking, turn off the heat and dump the cabbage into the pot with the other ingredients. You are now done with your friend, the cast iron skillet. Thank it lovingly and clean it carefully so that you can preserve your one of a kind friendship. (A cast iron pan is a friend you should really get if you don't have one already.)

Stir all the ingredients all together, taste it for seasoning, add salt and pepper if needed, and it's ready to eat. Ta Da!

It's a simple dish and should be served simply. Paper plates are a great way to go, but are not required. (They are one of my in-laws favorite ways to serve a meal.) Consume immediately, while everything is still hot and crisp. Yum!
Here's the recipe:

Bubble & Squeak

14 small red potatoes, or 7 medium russet potatoes
1 package of Polska Kielbasa Sausage, cut into bit sized pieces (Can substitute a package of bacon cut into small pieces)
1 small to medium onion, diced
1 small head of cabbage, cut or shredded
butter (about 2 Tbsp, but it's really to taste)
salt (to taste)
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Boil the potatoes until fork tender and drain. Cut into bit sized pieces and set aside. In a large skillet, add the sausage (or bacon) and cook over medium high heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, take the sausage (or bacon) out of the pan and set aside for later - keeping the drippings in the skillet. Add the onions to the drippings and salt and pepper to taste. If you don't have enough drippings in the pan, add 1 Tbsp of butter. Cook over medium heat until the onions start to turn soft and brown around the edges. Push the onions to one side of the pan and place an even layer of potatoes on the other side of the skillet. Don't touch the potatoes for at least 2 minutes - let them get brown and crispy. You might need to add more butter (your choice). When the potatoes are brown, turn them to crisp another side. Stir the onions. When the potatoes are browned, scoop them out and put them into the pot that was used to boil the potatoes (any big pot will do if you are using left over potatoes). Continue to add the potatoes to the skillet (with butter as needed), in an even layer, until all the potatoes are browned. Stir the onions occasionally to prevent burning. When the last batch of potatoes are done, the onions should be nicely caramelized. Add the potatoes and onions to the big pot. Add the cooked sausage (or bacon) to the pot as well. In the skillet, add another 1 Tbsp of butter and add the cabbage, salt and pepper (to taste). Continue to cook the cabbage, over medium heat until it's done to your liking. When it's done dump the cabbage into the big pot. Stir, check for seasoning and serve immediately.

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