Once again this is on vacation, so I must beg my readers humble pardon about the horrible quality of the picture. Award-winning food photography this isn’t.
Award-winning food, though … ! Of course, any food that doesn’t send me into a reaction I consider to be award-winning. I readily admit I may be biased.
I grew up in a coastal town with fog, flowers, fields of strawberries, and looming eucalyptus trees. Bangers and mash was something I think we kids learned about from reading books from the UK — the tale of the unfortunate Tristan Farnon’s turn as cook in James Herriot’s classic series of stories about a Yorkshire vet. Tristan apparently only knows how to cook one thing: a mess of fried potatoes and sausage fondly called “bangers and mash.” Throughout the entire story, Tristan serves the other bachelor vets fried sausage and potatoes of ever-decreasing edibility. Another book introduced us to “bubble and squeak.” We were thrilled. The names sounded suspiciously dirty to say, our versions didn’t look any worse than Tristan’s, and by aspiring kid chef standards, it tasted pretty good!
We only used cabbage and onion in our bubble and squeak growing up. I don’t know whether we just didn’t know that you could add other vegetables, or if those were the only vegetables we thought could be improved by frying. Our bangers and bubble and squeak was usually served with salad, too, something I’m fairly certain Tristan never did. Later, I moved to the Midwest of the United States and discovered I was wrong. Apparently EVERYTHING can be improved by breading, frying, and dipping in ranch! So yes, you can add other vegetables to your bubble and squeak!
It’s the childhood version with its cabbage and onions that still appeals to me and is imprinted in my taste buds as “comfort food.” It’s a great dish to make in winter, and was also surprisingly easy to make allergy-free. A local store, Trader Joe’s, provided chicken sausages. The cabbage and onion are already safe vegetables for me. Mashed potatoes, however, were a little bit trickier. Using some of the potato water, almond milk, and even a little garlic aioli or Just Mayo, it’s possible to make delicious mashed potatoes that can be as chunky or as smooth as you’re willing to whip them. Dump everything into a pan or, for a nice presentation, form into little patties. Fry in a neutral oil or butter substitute of your choice, waiting a few minutes each side until the potatoes begin to brown. Season with salt, pepper, and a little garlic to taste.