In the eighteenth century Bubble and Squeak was a dish made from leftover roasted meat and cabbage cooked together. It would have been served at Michigan’s Fort Michilimackinac during the time that the fort was in British hands, beginning in 1761.

As time went by other vegetables were used, usually whatever was left over from a previous meal. Often mashed or smashed roasted potatoes were added as the dish cooked. It got its name because it bubbles and squeaks as it cooks. The dish is sometimes made with leftover vegetables and potatoes only, leaving out the meat.

I had a nice piece of leftover sirloin tip roast and a cabbage we had picked up at the winter farmer’s market and thought it would be a good time to try this recipe. I was a little concerned because neither my husband nor I like dishes with a vinegary taste. I added the vinegar just a bit at a time and we were both surprised at how good it tasted served over mashed potatoes. It is definitely a dish we will make again! I hope you enjoy making this traditional dish as well.

Recipe for Bubble and Squeak 

2 cups leftover beef                                1 small cabbage

1 T vinegar                                                 salt and pepper

1 cup water                                                butter

Boil cabbage, drain and chop into bite-size pieces. Add meat, water, and vinegar. Season to taste with salt, pepper and butter. Cook until warm. The escaping steam will “bubble and squeak” as the meal cooks.

Recipe taken from History of the Hearth: A Colonial Michilimackinac Cookbook by Sally Eustice, published in 1997 by Mackinac State Historic Parks of Mackinac Island, MI



Fort Michilimackinac was established by the French in 1715 as a military fort and fur trading post. It was built on the shoreline of the Straits of Mackinac, which separate Lakes Huron and Michigan. In 1761, the fort was handed over to the British who continued to use it as both a military and fur trading post. A vibrant community flourished at Michilimackinac with many of the inhabitants being French families left from the French occupation.

We visited Ft. Michilimackinac in 2006. Our visit was both fun and educational. It is a living history site where interpreters “live” as the original inhabitants would have lived within the fort in the 18th century. The interpreters are also more than willing to stop and talk with visitors and answer any questions they might have. While we were there we saw voyageurs engaged in trading their furs, women carding wool and cooking over an open fireplace, a priest making his rounds in the village and soldiers on the parade ground engaged in musket drills.




Fort Michilimackinac is a reconstructed fort based on years of archaeological studies and digs at the site. It is in Mackinaw City, on the Straits of Mackinac. The fort is closed in the winter and is set to reopen on May 5, 2014. It is a worthwhile visit for anyone, and especially for families.