Bubble and Squeak Cakes

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“A classic British breakfast dish – belonging to the working class rather than the landed gentry - that traditionally had no fixed ingredients because it was made from whatever had been left over from a previous meal. Nonetheless, it usually included mashed potatoes and cabbage and/or leeks. I have fond childhood memories of eating Bubble and Squeak at friends' houses in England. This version I found on a 'Pan or Wok' recipe card from International Masters Publishers. In its ingredients, it certainly contains a few modern touches. Since this a traditional dish, and since there are so many variations, who's to say what's traditional? This particular recipe for Bubble and Squeak Cakes is delicious. I also like the idea of making individual cakes: so much easier to handle in the pan and everyone gets more of the browned crust. If you have not eaten Bubble and Squeak before, after making it once, go traditional and make it with whatever you have left-over. Although traditionally a breakfast dish, in 2005, I can imagine this dish being served at any time of the day or night. Not at your most elegant dinner party perhaps, but anywhere else. In posting it here, I’ve left the ingredients exactly as I originally found them on the recipe card. No herbs! No onions! No garlic! I confess I do add these. I've included a few suggested departures from the recipe in brackets within the instructions, and in the notes at the end. Recipes are not sacred texts to be revered; and traditional recipes like this one invite you to add your own personal touches and to vary them to satisfy your whims.”
4 Bubble & Squeak cakes

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Finely chop the bacon; thoroughly wash and dry, then trim and finely slice the leeks; beat the egg; cut the mushrooms into quarters; cut the tomatoes in half; and finely shred the cabbage.
  2. Place the serving plates in a low oven so that they will be warmed when required.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil (less if the bacon is fatty; see notes below) in a heavy-based, non-stick pan, add the bacon pieces, fry for about 4 minutes, until crisp, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper kitchen towelling.
  4. (Optional departure: If you want to add finely chopped onion and/or garlic, add them 1-2 minutes BEFORE adding the leeks to the pan.).
  5. Add the leeks to the pan and sauté for 2 minutes.
  6. Transfer the bacon and leeks (and onions & garlic) to a large bowl, add the mashed potatoes, cabbage and egg (see notes below), season to taste and mixing together with wet hands, shape into 4 round cakes, 10cm/4" across. (If you've been imprecise or overly generous in the quantity of some of the ingredients, you may well have enough for five or six cakes. You may also choose to make smaller cakes, but remember to then adjust the cooking time: they'll cook much faster, of course.).
  7. Heat the remaining oil in the pan, add the bubble and squeak cakes and cook for about 6 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Remove the cakes from the pan and keep warm.
  8. Add the mushrooms and tomatoes to the pan and sauté for 4 minutes. (I add basil here, probably about 1 tablespoon of fresh basil)
  9. Place the bubble and squeak cakes on warm serving plates, top with the mushroom and tomatoes and serve immediately.
  10. Chef's notes: I always buy middle rashers and remove ALL the fat, so I do need a little oil, probably about 1/2 tablespoon. If you use streaky bacon, I can't see that you'd need much oil at all, if any, certainly not the full tablespoon specified in the recipe. Because I've usually been imprecise in my measurements of one or other or several of the vegetables, I usually add 2 eggs. If tomatoes are just not looking very good or you cannot find a flavoursome variety (isn't the tasteless tomato the bane of all our lives?) canned, drained tomatoes are fine.

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