21 May 2012

Are You a Porridge Person?

OK I know this might be a bit off-track, but I'm at home sick today, so tried to make myself feel better by cooking up a big pot of delicious porridge.  Even me saying that will put half of you off won't it?!  
I've come to realise lately that people are divided into porridge lovers and porridge loathers.  
That's fine, except that lately I've also realised that too often it's the porridge loathers who are obviously employed in the kitchens of establishments selling porridge for the lovers.  In my view, when the weather gets cold, there's nothing better than a big hot bowl of porridge.  Not every day, but as a treat to perk oneself up and get going on a cold morning.  And I naively used to think that others bothering to sell porridge shared that view.  But I've now realised that it must often just be on menus because kitchens can make it really cheaply (read badly) and charge lots to the romantics amongst us who like their winter breakfasts with steam.

Every time I have ordered porridge so far this year I have been completely disappointed.  Some have been average, some inedible, some not even recognisable as porridge. The worst offenders are stalls at farmers markets, where I'm an easy target in the cold foggy, often drizzling morning air.  Instant oats microwaved, then heated up for hours on a camp stove and served with a pathetic dribble of honey and a piece of hard, cold "stewed" fruit IS NOT PORRIDGE!  Neither was the dish I had at an otherwise great cafe that appeared to soak its oats in water until they were softish and then heat them up in a microwave and serve with some cold fruit on top.  If you can see the oats in it, IT'S NOT PORRIDGE!

Porridge has to be made from scratch, using milk - full cream milk and preferably non-homogenised - and not served until all the oats have broken down into a yummy, glutinous mass of deliciousness.  Toppings can be applied to taste, but they must always contain a bit of cold milk poured on just as you serve and something sweet (unless your preferred method is the traditional dob of butter, which is also fine and delicious).

So here then is my method.  I know it's not the only way, but it achieves the right consistency and I think earns the right to be called PORRIDGE:

Put 1 part oats (not instant!!) to 2 parts milk into a medium saucepan.  
(When making it for myself - M is a loather - I use 3/4 cup oats to 1.5 cups milk.  Now I know that's a lot of milk, so I think it's acceptable to use 1 cup milk and 1/2 cup water, but no more!)
Bring to boil, stirring constantly.
Reduce heat to simmer and stir for approximately 4-5 minutes until oats have completely broken down.
Pour immediately into large bowl.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Pour some cold milk over top (to take the searing heat out of it so that you can start eating straight away)

That's it, simple and delicious!

Are you a porridge person?  What are your favourite ways of eating porridge?


  1. I've never known what porridge was... It's pretty much how we make oatmeal except for the boiling in milk part. ;-)

    Sounds delicious.

    1. I hadn't thought about that, guess it's probably a European thing!

  2. yum, love the cinnamon on top too. I haven't made any yet this winter, as my husband won't even try it, prefers his weetbix. I have found that I really like the Nourishing Traditions method, which is to leave the oats overnight mixed with a little yoghurt or kefir, if you do that right in the pot, you can heat them up the next morning and they cook way quicker and are easier to digest. Agree that you shouldn't be able to see the oats!! Cheers, Liz

    1. That sounds interesting, it probably breaks down the oats slowly similar to the slow proof process with sourdough. I might try it. Do you still cook it with milk the same way in the morning? I presume you use natural yoghurt? And what's kefir?

  3. Love it! no one makes it as good as my Dad used to though.

  4. I do love porridge but you wont be pleased to here I make mine with water and I don't always cook it down as much as you - I know, I know. I do believe in cold milk though as well as cinnamon and brown sugar. My grandfather in law ate his porridge with salt - as much as I enjoy porridge and indeed savoury breakfasts I do draw the line at salty porridge.

  5. It's funny, I have very strong memories of childhood porridge, it seems to be a food that memories attach themselves to. I've got a feeling my Dad used to put some salt in his too. I'm quite happy with my recipe, so probably won't try it, but I suspect I'd like it as I'm a bit of a savoury person - nothing better on pancakes or scones than Vegemite in my opinion!!

    1. Yes and he still does - just a pinch while cooking.

      The Mother

  6. Here's what I do every morning. It seems like a big effort but the concoction evolved slowly over the years.
    In a large bowl add very approximately:
    -1 heaping 1/4 cup or 70ml oats.
    -half a banana
    -a third of a cup of sweet potato
    -big pinch of currents
    -big pinch of dried cranberries or dried sour cherries
    -small pinch of almonds
    -tiny dribble of Flax oil or large sprinkle of LSA
    -a few frozen blueberries
    -one egg
    -vitamin D and Magnesium to taste

    stir the egg in and add boiling water to make a thinnish mud consistency. Microwave (two bowls for 3 mins.)
    Remove from microwave and let cool and thicken while you shower.
    Should not be too viscous but slightly gloppy so you can read The Age online without looking at your spoon.

    P.S. Fill your coffee press before the water boils, (83-87C), pour after 3 mins. to avoid that Melbourne stale, burnt, bitter flavor and you won't need sugar or milk... unless you like coffee flavored milkshakes.

    1. Wow Mack, that will either make you live to 110 or kill you really soon!! I kind of get it, some of it could be amazing, but using an egg to mix it up is just plain scary! As for your dissing of Melbourne coffee...I happen to like hot coffee milkshakes (but not with my porridge!!)
      ps. Thanks for following my blog!
      pps. What does magnesium actually taste like??

  7. I always pour cold milk on my hot porridge. I don't see anyone do that here. As a kid in England, I used to sprinkle sugar on top (so much it almost formed a crust), and then pour over the milk. My sweet tooth isn't as rampant these days, and now I actually prefer just a touch of brown sugar on my porridge, or a little maple syrup. Like you though, it's got to be the real deal. None of that microwavable oat dust sold in packets. I must admit, my least favorite way to eat it though is the traditional Scotch porridge way, sprinkled with salt. That came as a bit of a surprise to me the first time I was Edinburgh. Now I'm savvy enough to ask them to leave out the salt! ;)

    1. I can relate to that, when I was a kid I used to sprinkle masses of sugar on the top, mix that in, and then sprinkle a whole other layer on the top!

  8. I must say I am not much of a porrige eater, which is to say I never had any in my life. Here Malta porridge is not such a big thing. I don't like the look of it to be honest, which is why I never tried it. I should give it a go, then I'll let you know...

    1. Yes it's definitely not the best looking dish in the world! And cleaning up the leftovers in the pan is pretty gross too! I wonder if there is some sort of similar local variation in Malta?

  9. A Rutabaga is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip... sometimes it's called a Swedish Turnip.

    I realize this has nothing to do with porridge... I enjoyed reading everyone's comments. :-)

  10. Late to the game but oh my! Worlds apart when it comes to this fine dish. I like my porridge cooked with water and salted to taste (the Scottish way). I like it for dinner not breakfast lest it mess with my coffee-hit. I like it more solid than glutinous and to add insult to injury I like it with cauliflower. Or tofu. Or both!

  11. Hmmm... OK this post is getting scary now!! Any more takers for weird porridge combos?

    Thanks for your thoughts everyone, I knew I was correct in thinking that porridge is a very passionate subject for many! :-)