Friday, 17 January 2014

Bubble and Squeak

Bliss
It's always a pain when you want to sum something up all neat and clever and succinctly like and then someone beats you to it. However, after flashing this glorious picture of bubble and squeak, complete with a split poached egg, up on t'internet yesterday, I have to say I agree with this statement with an absolute passion:

"If I ruled the world, Bubble would be a staple food like bread you could just buy everywhere and eat every day" - Sophie Law (or @Brucy1 on Twitter)

Because lets face it, bubble and squeak is fantastic, life-affirming stuff and should indeed be a staple of our diets.

To the uninitiated, B&S is the simple combination of leftover vegetables, normally from a traditional roast, mashed up all together and then fried in a pan and served the next day, or several days after, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, whatever. The bubble comes from the oil or fat used to fry and the squeak comes from the vegetables as they cook. Very little effort is needed to make it, aside from a casual pressing with a fish slice every now and then, to encourage a crust, a rather British take on the socarrat that makes for a proper paella, before chopping and tossing to distribute the crispy edges and then pressing some more. Actually, a fish slice is a pretty important piece of kit when it comes to bubble. Ten minutes over a decent heat is all it takes. Or maybe sooner, if the plush aroma gets to you. On occasion, I have eaten it way before any burnt bits could materialise but in all honesty, try to wait for them to arrive. And flip, onto the plate it goes, to be enjoyed with, well, practically anything. Don't think for a second that bubble and squeak is to be paired only with cold meats and pickles for one solitary night of the year. It is universal.

Pinpointing exactly why or how it works and tastes so damn good is a difficult one though. After ruminating, covered in a fridge, perhaps some strange mystical magic happens. The taste bud fairies arrive in the dead of night and scatter their pixie dust all over the landscape, maybe. Or maybe, as the vegetables slowly deteriorate and crumble, they sweeten some more and the residue of fat that coats them transfigures and mutates into a sheen of umami. Salt permeates further, bitter brassicas breakdown and mellow and the whole bowl becomes self-seasoning. I don't really know. I do know that after tipping in some celery gratin, complete with slices of Saint Agur cheese, the mix I made up was supremely good. Topped with a poached egg, that quivered in anguish before I cleaved it with a knife, golden yolk trickling downwards, the bubble and squeak I had yesterday was off the muthafricken chain. As the kids say (or do they?)

I am not sure I can condone the practice of creating food waste simply to have food waste 'ready to go'. Imagine factories churning out trays of roast spuds, pots of boiled cabbage and vats of caramelised onion, to be mashed and mushed, just for the purposed of delivering bubble and squeak to the masses* But there is a spark of an idea there, something in what Sophie said. I know of a project now well afoot that feeds piggies on leftover vegetables, so why can't us human beans take up the mantle too in some way? 

I know I could be a piggy for bubble and squeak.

*Of course, this is where someone turns around and says "Asda are already doing that me ol' china!" 
And I will have to go and shop there tomorrow..... BOGOF!

2 comments:

belleau kitchen said...

gorgeous stuff... If I have plenty of time I mix an egg or two into the bubble mixture and then squash it all into an oven dish and bake it for as long as I can stand it so it comes out a little burnt... gorgeous!

Choclette said...

That photograph looks so damn good it's making me feel hungry all over again and I've not long finished a very nice mac n cheese. Not sure why, but haven't had bubble & squeak in years and years - something has gone seriously wrong ...