British Cuisine Recipes

Recipes for bubble and squeak, cockleekie soup and Scotch eggs.

Bubble and Squeak: Fried Cabbage, Potatoes, and Corned Beef

Makes: 4 servings

Are there bubbles and does it squeak? Yes; the name comes from the sound and appearance of these ingredients as they hit a hot skillet. It’s a great dish to make if you have a fridge full of typical British leftovers like cabbage, mashed potatoes, and boiled (or corned) beef. If you don’t have enough leftovers on hand, a pot of boiling water and an extra few minutes will set you straight.


4 quarts water, to cook the cabbage and potatoes
½ teaspoon salt, or to your taste, plus 1 tablespoon if cooking cabbage and potatoes
2 cups chopped cabbage, cooked or fresh
2 cups chopped potatoes, cooked or fresh
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups chopped cooked boiled or corned beef*
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


    1. If your potatoes and cabbage are not already cooked, bring the water and 1 tablespoon of the salt to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender. Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon, reserving the water, and set aside. Repeat with the cabbage, but simmer it for only 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
    2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the beef and cook it, stirring occasionally, until the edges of the meat begin to brown, about 10 minutes.
    3. Add the boiled cabbage and potato and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to brown, too, about 20 minutes more.
    4. Taste for salt. If the beef was salty enough, you won’t need it; otherwise, add ½ teaspoon, or to taste. Add the pepper and stir.. Serve hot.
Note: If you leave out the corned beef, you’ll have colcannon, a classic Irish vegetable side dish.

*Boiled Beef

4 servings

When people first hear about this recipe, they assume it’s something like boiled hamburgers. Names can be deceiving, though. “Boiled Beef” is just a British name for what Americans would call “Cooked Corned Beef” or “New England Boiled Dinner.” It also goes under the names “salt beef” and “salted beef” in Great Britain. It’s eaten the very same way it is in Ireland—as a dinner with the leftovers used for the legendary Bubble and Squeak.


1 (3-pound) corned beef brisket
2 cups chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped turnip
2 cups pearl onions
1 cup sliced leek (white part only)
4 whole cloves
8 whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh sage
1 sprig fresh rosemary


    1. Rinse off the beef brisket in cold water. Soak it in cold water to cover for at least 6 hours in the refrigerator to help remove the surface salt.
    2. Drain the beef and place it in a large pot. Add fresh cold water until the meat is just covered. Cover the pot, bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat starts to become tender, about 1 hour.
    3. Add the carrot, celery, turnips, onions, leek, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme, sage, and rosemary to the pot. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until the meat and vegetables are very tender, about 2 hours more.
    4. Remove from the heat. Take out and discard the bay leaves, thyme, sage, and rosemary. Serve the warm meat and vegetables together.


Cock-A-Leekie: Chicken, Leek, and Prune Soup

Makes: 6 servings

To really understand this dish, you have to imagine a time centuries ago when dried fruits were exotic ingredients and a badge of wealth and sophistication. If you’re wondering if there’s anything in the name, well, not really. It’s just a jumble of Old English and Scottish Gaelic—a reminder that the original ingredients were a cock ready for the soup pot and some leeks.


2 pounds chicken thighs
2 cups chopped leek
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup pearl barley
1 bay leaf
2 cloves
2 cups whole milk
8 cups water
1 cup halved pitted prunes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


    1. Combine the chicken, leek, carrot, celery, barley, bay leaf, cloves, milk, and water in a large soup pot over medium heat. Bring the broth to a simmer and let the broth cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is done all the way through, about 1-1/2 hours. Remove the chicken from the pot and let the meat cool. Keep the soup at a simmer.
    2. Remove the chicken meat from the bones and return the meat to the soup. Discard the bones.
    3. Add the prunes, salt, and pepper and continue to simmer the soup until the liquid has reduced by a third and the flavors are well combined, about 1 hour more. Remove the bay leaf and serve hot.


Scotch Eggs

6 eggs

When I told my wife that I was going to do a book on British food, she demanded that I include Scotch eggs. At first I was put off; I knew them only from chip shops. But when I made them at home, they took on a different character—rich, meaty, and unctuous, rather than greasy. I realized that they were a dish that needed to be rescued.


1 pound mild sausage, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled
1 cup dried, unflavored bread crumbs
Oil for deep-frying


    1. Mix the sausage meat, thyme, mace, salt, and pepper together in a bowl, making sure all the seasonings are distributed well.
    2. Divide the meat into 6 equal portions. Place a portion between two sheets of parchment or wax paper and roll it with a rolling pin into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick. Repeat with the remaining portions.
    3. Wrap each egg with a layer of meat, making sure no egg is showing. Put the bread crumbs in a shallow dish, and dredge the eggs in the bread crumbs until they are completely coated.
    4. Pour about 6 inches of oil into a heavy pot and heat to 375°F. Fry the eggs, giving them an occasional turn, until the bread crumb crust is well-browned, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels or a rack. Serve warm.

Variation: Instead of frying the eggs, put them on a well-oiled baking sheet and bake at 425°F, turning several times, for about 20 minutes, or until the crust is browned.

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