Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

Buggle and speak

One of my absolute favourite ways of cooking, is using up left-overs. Whether it’s pasta, mash, gravy, roast meat or even crisps, I enjoy thinking my way around a dish on how I can incorporate whatever’s at hand, remnants otherwise destined for the bin.

It must be the latent Scot in me to waste nothing; ensuring the maximum amount of benefit is wrung from every morsel. It can be a challenge sometimes, but when it works it feels extra special, like a tuning fork has chimed inside me, a fork forged from Scottish heritage.

Did you hear the one about the Scottish man who dropped a 50 pence piece? When he bent to pick it up, it hit him on the back of the neck.


Parsimony personified.

Just like that potato bread from a few weeks ago, this recipe is a great way to use up any left-over mash. And just like that potato bread, bubble and squeak is great with a sunny-side-up fried egg, with or without the bacon.

You could also knock bubble and squeak up to order, if you were having roast beef on a Sunday (a rich gravy takes it to a whole new level of satisfaction), but personally, I like mine as a decadent weekend brunch, when the little humans are already sated on something sweet and quietly installed in front of the TV.

Is it normal for little humans to be allergic to green things in food? Apart from peas, our two consider leafy greens to be evil, actually evil.

Therefore, in a bid to keep up with the five-a-day recommendation, I have previously added a smattering of peas to bubble and squeak (apparently you can also use left-over brussels) and they work a treat. But when it comes to cabbage, you’d think I was asking the off-spring to eat hay.

Note: Anna (3) calls this dish, buggle and speak. If you’re gonna get it wrong, you might as well do it in style.

I know what you’re thinking too: Why is it called bubble and squeak? Ahem… Legend has it, the cabbage as it cooks within the big potato pancake emits such bubbles and squeaks from time to time.


To be honest, I’ve never noticed. Maybe I’m not using enough cabbage or maybe these bruits are but an extra-urban myth.

Whatever the case, bubble and squeak certainly tastes better than it’s reported to sound.


• 1 tbsp of goose fat (you could also use butter)

• 200g of streaky bacon, chopped (you could also use lardons)

• 1 white onion, finely sliced (you could also use a few chopped spring onions)

• Left-over potatoes (for argument sake lets say you’ve half a pound’s worth or around 500g. Also, floury ones work best)

• Half as much green cabbage (say 250g-ish), shredded

• salt and pepper


If the spuds aren’t mashed, do this first – in a big bowl – and then set aside.

Add the goosefat to a non-stick frying pan and when hot, add the bacon. Fry until beginning to crisp and then add the onions and stir fry for a few minutes. Dump in the cabbage and stir-fry for another minute or two.

Scrap everything out into the bowl containing the spuds and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Clean the frying pan with some kitchen roll and add a touch of butter or goosefat.

This should hopefully stop it sticking. Dump the whole mixture back into the pan and push it down and flatten so that it covers the


Cook on a low to medium setting for about eight to ten minutes before turning. The key is that the potato will crisp so that when you turn it, there’ll be a slight crust.

To turn, I put a plate over the pan and then flip it, before sliding the big pancake back into the pan. Give it another eight minutes or so and it should be done.

Turn out onto a clean plate and cut into wedges.

Gravy? Brown sauce? Fried egg?

It’ll be magic whatever culinary accoutrement you’re using.

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