I grew up in a typical Yorkshire home where every Sunday we would sit down as a family to eat our Sunday dinner together. But my memories of this long-standing family tradition are of the following day’s tea time when my Mum would prepare a fry-up – otherwise known as bubble and squeak.
Invariably, our Sunday dinner would centre around a joint of beef cooked until it was dryer than a spoonful of Sarahan sands (sorry Mum). My Dad was a truck driver for a farmer and this meant delivering livestock to the abattoir, or the “slaughterhouse” as I knew it (sorry to any vegetarians/vegans – just telling it like it is/was) and this meant he had access to some rather nice joints (cuts) of meat at a much-reduced price, though how much actual money changed hands I am unclear of. Usually, this was beef.
There would be Yorkshire puddings, cabbage, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, mashed carrot & swede and lashing of gravy. Oh, talking of the gravy…
After the meal, my Dad would often bring out a loaf of white bread and use as many slices as it would take to use up all the left-over gravy. Occasionally I would join him.
Also, sometimes we would have boiled potatoes. I am assuming this was if Mum was pushed for time and didn’t have time to roast/mash them. Anyway, I hated them! Enough said about those the better.
Circling back to the beef and the regularity that we had it I must mention when my eldest sister began a revolt and started calling it “boring beef” and refused to eat it any longer. It wasn’t long before I joined in on this stand-off and this became the beginning of the end for the reign of the beef dinner in our home.
While the Sunday dinner was clearly the main event, it was after school on a Monday that I looked forward to. Not because I hated school, though the Sunday night feeling and the gut-wrenching realisation of the impending start of a new week when the theme to Howard’s Way came on the TV was bad, but because of another mealtime event.
The Monday night fry up…
Mum called it a fry up but the commonly accepted name for this is bubble and squeak. When someone says a “fry up” most folk would think of a plate consisting of bacon, sausages, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms etc. Not me. A fry up is the frying up of all the leftovers from the previous days Sunday dinner.
There are celebrity chefs out there with recipes for bubble and squeak on their websites using ingredients from scratch. NO! Stop that madness. A fry up (bubble & squeak) HAS to be made from leftovers and nothing else. No arguing.
You can’t really write a recipe for it as who knows what will be left over after the Sunday dinner. Well, you can guess and try to weight things in your favour if you’re the one cooking it.
Yesterday I was the one cooking the Sunday dinner, the first I’d done in a while, and I enjoyed it. We had roast pork, roast potatoes, champ (an Irish mashed potato made with spring onions), mashed carrots & swede, cabbage and the all-important gravy. It was quite wonderful.
I made my own version of champ using finely diced red onion that I infused in milk and butter, added crispy fried cubed bacon and some cheddar cheese too.
With a family of six, we’ve become adept over the years of just cooking enough for us and thus no leftovers for a Monday fry up. Not so yesterday, I went big.
I’m not sure my family were keen on the idea, but I couldn’t wait to fry up the leftover champ (mashed potato), cabbage, carrot & swede, roast potatoes, oh and a Yorkshire pudding too. I think Helen was secretly relieved to be working so she could miss out on this culinary delight.
Those pesky celebrity chefs again seem to like to make a kind of patty out of the leftovers. My recollections from childhood are that this is not how my Mum made it. She would simply throw it all in a large frying pan, mix it all together, heat it up sufficiently and then spoon it into a bowl. Served with salt, pepper and red sauce (tomato ketchup).
This gave me a dilemma on how to go and prepare this.
I wanted it to be true to my childhood but I also wanted to put my own twist on it. I thought about a shepherds pie where the peaks of fluffy mash would brown and go crispy in the heat of the oven and this inspired me.
Yes, I would fry it all up in a frying pan, mixing it into one mass of food as I went. But then, I would spoon it into a roasting dish, fluff up the top and get it under a hot grill to brown it.
My transition to going all out cheffy was almost complete when I added fried egg to add another dimension to the dish as well. Gordon, Jamie & Gine eat your heart out!
As comfort food goes, this is amazing. On a cold autumnal night, what’s better than a bowl of piping hot goodness that is bubble and squeak?