Beginners' Bubble and Squeak

By John Owen | Mar 14, 2013

The couple had Edmonds roots, from time spent working for Rick Steves.  We were attracted by a motor tour they were offering through southern England after their stint with Europe Through the Back Door.

It promised lodging in attractive bed and breakfast establishments in villages like Lands End and Penzance and all of our meals would be served in picturesque pubs our leaders had scouted out, often found at the dead end of country roads.

We bellied up to the bar with the locals.

Like them, we ordered pints of "best bitter."

According to brew experts, a best bitter is actually not too bitter with just enough hops to be refreshing and smooth going down thanks to a healthy quantity of English 2-row barley or Marris Otter malt.  Got that?

I didn't either. But I recall the response of a major league catcher who was asked why he didn't do TV commercials for his favorite American beer.

"I can't remember ever having a bad one," he explained.

I can't remember having "a bad one" on our southern English tour.  But after ordering another "best bitter" one night in some place like Crows-an-Wry I finally asked the bartender whether there was such a thing as a "bad bitter?

"Yes there is," he answered without a pause.  "It's called Bud Lite."

I thought that was a local joke.  But it substantiated a feeling I had long harbored.

I have watched at least 3,729 Bud Lite commercials on sports channels. But I have never developed a taste for the product.

Maybe it's my upbringing.  I remember how Montana bartenders reacted when first asked if they served light beer.  They nodded, partially filled a glass under the tap, then finished it off with an inch of water.

Well, nobody is laughing now.  Consumers across the country recently filed class-action lawsuits charging Anheuser-Busch with watering their beer as a cost-saving strategy.

You can be sure the Guinness Brewery has never been cursed with this suspicion. You can drink it or chew it.

On trips to Ireland I developed a fondness for Murphy's, mainly because a glass of Guinness usually sat under the tap for 10 minutes, while the suds subsided.  It gave me a nervous twitch.

On trips to the Emerald Isle I found Murphy's a perfect accompaniment with corned beef and cabbage.

Here is a simplified version we occasionally cook at home.


Beginners' Bubble and Squeak


Thaw one package of frozen Brussel sprouts.

Boil about four potatoes, then peel and halve them when cool.   Open one can of corned beef.

Toss the halved potatoes, sliced corned beef and the sprouts into a casserole.

Pour in one cup of consommé.

Season with salt, pepper, marjoram and thyme.

Bake covered in a casserole for 30 minutes in a 350 oven.

Serves two.

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