Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cool Breezes and Deja Vu: Crispy Bubble and Squeak Pancakes



Not so cute at 3 am


My dog got me up before dawn this morning to go outside.  Actually, he tried to wake my husband, but he pretended to be asleep knowing that I would eventually give in.  I want Mr. H to know when he reads this that I am onto him and one of these days I am going to outlast him and let the dog pee on the floor on his side of the bed.  Having gotten that out of the way, I must say that our dog rarely ever does this, but I find it suspicious that when he does, it is when he has had a bath the day before. Retaliation? I think so.

When this happens in most places you can just open the door, let your dog out and stumble back to bed, but not where we live.  In our neighborhood there are constant sightings of coyotes, foxes and owls, and in the surrounding areas there are frequent sightings of mountain lions and bears.  None of which I am sure would pass on the chance to munch on a well fed little house dog.  As he puttered around in the dark, I tried to tell him he could be a snack at any moment, but like most kids he refused to listen.

So as I stood in the blackness of the night in my robe and flip flops ready at any moment to do hand to hand combat with a bear, I closed my eyes and just for a moment was transported back to England.  I don't know, maybe I was dreaming, or maybe it was a combination of the soft cool breeze and a rare hint of moisture in the Colorado air, but a strong sense of deja vu came over me and I swear I could have been standing on my front porch in Nottingham.  Now I'm homesick.

Since the weather made me a little bit sentimental about the UK, and since I also had a bowl of leftover mashed potatoes and some sauteed cabbage in the fridge,  I decided that this was a good time to post one of my favorite English recipes, bubble and squeak.

Thought up as a way to breathe new life into leftover vegetables from Sunday lunch, there are versions of this recipe which range from a loose colcannon-like mixture of mashed potatoes and cabbage or any other vegetable that might be in the fridge, to crispy fried potato pancake-like patties.  It is the crispy pancakes that I love the most and are the subject of this post. 




Crispy Bubble and Squeak Pancakes




If I am mashing potatoes with this dish in mind, I just usually boil 2 medium potatoes,drain them and mash them with maybe just a little bit of salt, pepper and butter to season them but still make them as stiff as I can get them.  If I am using leftover mash from the recipe link below, I normally have to add a little bit of flour to stiffen them up to counteract all of the goodies I usually add to them.  This helps them hold together as they are fried. 

As for the cabbage I use, I usually saute my cabbage with bacon and onion so it is usually "dry" when I mix it in with the potatoes.  If you are using leftover cabbage or other vegetables (a big favorite is brussel sprouts), make sure they are drained and as dry as you can get them so your patties will hold together.


2 medium to large size russet potatoes, peeled, boiled, drained and mashed or 1 - 1/2 cups of your favorite leftover mashed potatoes (click here for my recipe if needed)
1 cup chopped boiled or fried cabbage (recipe follows)
1 egg, beaten
2 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for drying out leftover potatoes, if needed
3 - 6 tablespoons vegetable oil

Place potatoes, cabbage, cheese, egg and salt and pepper in a large bowl and fold together to combine completely.   If needed add flour a tablespoon at a time to stiffen the mixture until a handful of the mixture holds together when formed into a patty (about 1 - 3 tablespoons, you don't want to add to much as it will take on a "floury" taste).  Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions and form into patties that are about 1/2" thick; set aside.

Pour the all-purpose flour on a plate.  Dredge each patty in the flour, coating on each side; set aside.

Pour 3 tablespoons of  the oil into a medium size frying pan that has been set over medium high heat.  When the oil is hot fry patties until they are golden brown on each side, approximately 5 minutes on each side.   Due to the size of my pan I cooked my patties in two batches.  If frying in batches, add additional oil if needed.  Keep patties warm in a low oven until ready to serve.

Serves 4 to 8.

Fried Cabbage

2 slices bacon, chopped
1 small onion, thinly sliced
8 ounces raw cabbage (about 1/2 of a small head), thinly sliced then chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed

Brown bacon in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Just before it becomes crispy add the onion and saute until it is soft and transparent.  Add the cabbage and saute with the bacon and onion in the drippings until it becomes limp, stirring frequently, approximately 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook and stir for approximately one minute longer.  Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally for another 10 - 15 minutes or until the cabbage is tender.

Makes approximately 1 cup which feeds approximately 2 people.  Recipe can be easily doubled.
  



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