In part, the understanding comes from friendship with Karen from FamilyStyle Food, who in her early years of cooking, aspired to be the next Alice Waters. (Alice Waters? If you've not heard of her, as I hadn't til the last three or four years, you may be a home cook too!) Last month, Karen shared how she's always wanted to cook a suckling lamb on a spit -- and I realized it's never once occurred to me that one might roast a whole lamb, let alone a suckling lamb, let alone to make it a life dream. It made me laugh ...
And it makes me realize that even when we're curious about new foods, actively seeking out new recipes, new cuisines, even when we stretch ourselves with new ingredients and new flavor profiles, even when we tackle something harder (or sublimely authentic) than we have before, we still have our own comfortable spaces, the ones we return to most often, the ones that define the kind of cooks we are.
Is this too rhapsodic? Isn't it just supper? It is. But I'd love to know if/how readers define their cooking styles ...
And finally! With no further ado, I proudly present the home-iest (and perhaps homely-est) of home foods, fried potatoes and cabbage -- and share that taste-wise, especially with a liberal dose of ketchup, it sent the table over the moon. The British call this "bubble and squeak" and there are no fewer than 41 "recipes" for it at Cooks.com, each one different, and none on the major food magazines. THAT speaks volumes.
The one requirement is potatoes, often mashed, with any luck leftover. Cabbage is next on the ingredient list though some variations add or substitute other vegetables. Many include Sunday's leftover roast -- as did mine, ham.
And then it's all cooked up in a skillet. If you add lots of fat, you'll get a heavenly crust -- since I can't bear to use that much fat, next time I'll see if (1) a non-stick skillet helps, also (2) a skillet placed on top and weighted with a couple of big cans of tomatoes.
The bottom line is, if you're a home cook, this belongs in the repertoire, hmm, too fancy a word? yes, a place on the menu.
- It's easy to overdo the starch here, I used a 1:1 ratio of potato:cabbage and would go so far as 1:2.
- This is a great way to use up leftover ham or leftover corned beef but meatless would be great, too. Potatoes and cabbage are the stars.
- Breakfast food? You bet!
- Does ketchup qualify as garnish? I do believe!
FROM THE ARCHIVES The Recipe Box has plenty of potato recipes. Sorta-kinda similar are the potato okra curry and the warm potato salad.
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BUBBLE & SQUEAK
Time to table: 45 minutes
Serves 4 as main dish, 8 as side dish
Salted water to cover both potatoes and cabbage
1 pound Yukon gold or other potatoes, peels on, cubed small (to cook faster) (or cooked potato)
1/2 medium cabbage, in large wedges (or cooked cabbage)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 a white onion, diced
1/2 pound cooked ham, diced
Bring the salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes as they're prepped, the cabbage on top. Cover and let cook til potatoes are done. Remove cabbage wedges and chop. Drain potatoes.
In a large skillet, heat the oil til shimmery. Add the onion and cook til just beginning to brown. Add the cooked potatoes, cabbage and ham and stir to distribute. With a fork or spatula, mash the potatoes a bit, then press mixture into the pan to form a large 'pancake'. Let cook til edges brown or mixture is heated through. Transfer to serving plates, drizzle elegantly with ketchup, serve and enjoy.