Porridge is a staple warm winter breakfast. As they are complex carbs oats are great for breakfast with a slow energy release filling you up until lunchtime. My 5 year old has been reading Goldilocks and the three bears over and over this week so I have porridge on my mind. Here is a little bit about porridge and my basic go-to recipe.
A little bit of Porridge History
The term porridge is typically used for oat porridge but it can also be made with other cooked grains such as wheat, barley, corn or buckwheat. Traditionally porridge is made from oatmeal, water and salt. Using the oatmeal means it would take a long time to cook hence why porridge was cooked in large batches in a long slow cook.
A traditional Scottish recipe, porridge was often used as a way to preserve oats by making them into a thick paste. At the start of a week families would make a big batch of porridge, this would then be put in the porridge draw! Yes an actual dresser draw that had been cleaned out and lined would be filled with porridge and over the week the family would take slices of cold porridge for various meals.
In Scotland porridge was also made and still is in many cases using a spurtle. A spurtle is a wooden stick or rod as long as a large wooden spoon. Some traditionally have a thistle carved into the handle. For the superstitious of you – in order to keep the devil at bay you would stir the spurtle using your right hand in a clockwise direction!
If gruel comes to mind when thinking about porridge it is actual slightly different as it is thinner wetter version of porridge. Often associated with peasants and or institutions like the workhouse where Oliver Twist was asking for more.
As grains are a staple across the world there are many versions or similar dishes to porridge and you will find lots of different opinions on how it should be made. A traditional Scottish porridge is made from oatmeal (not rolled oats or oatflakes) with water and salt. Using milk in your porridge is seen by some as an English tradition.
Pinhead oatmeal is the whole groat. It takes longer to cook than rolled oats and many prefer to soak it in cold water overnight. Whilst some still have a traditional porridge most of us are more interested in saving time so we use rolled oats or oat flakes which is much quicker to cook.
Adding salt at the beginning of the cook will help bring out the nutty taste and give a bit more depth to your porridge.
Milk or water?
Traditionalists may stick to just water and some will have just milk if they prefer a creamy texture. The most common methods is a mixture of milk and water. The milk provides a creaminess whilst using the water keeps the oat flavour. You can use any milk you like so you can use dairy alternatives like soya and almond milk.
As for quantities it will depend on how you like your porridge some like it thick others thin. I use 1 part oats, 2 part milk and 4 parts water.
Did You Know
Every year the Scottish highland village of Carrbridge hosts the World Porridge Making Championship.
Porridge flavours & Toppings
The great thing about porridge is there are so many options for flavours and toppings to keep it interesting. I suggest trying lots of different flavours and toppings until you find your favourite combinations.
Fruit is a great addition to porridge things like fresh bananas, berries, apples and pears go well. Fruit compote is another option or dried fruits like dates and raisins.
Some like to add a drop of Whisky. I prefer spices like cinnamon and nutmeg to add a bit of flavour. I also really like adding a little brown sugar to hot porridge, it melts in and provides a silky toffee taste.
Chocolate porridge is popular at the moment and easily done by adding in some coco powder mixed with the water. Yogurt is another great topping especially with berries.
You can combine flavours like chocolate and orange or pear and cinnamon.
Jams, nut butters and marmalade are all easily stirred in towards the end of cooking. Finish by drizzling something sweet on top like honey or syrup and sprinkling on some seeds or nuts.
A delicious combination from the Cook Yourself Thin Book is coconut and mango.
There are so many great options let me know what you like to have with your porridge in the comments.
Top porridge tip – after the porridge has been cooked and served into bowls. Fill the saucepan with water and a little washing up liquid straight away. This will make the pan much easier to clean without dry porridge stuck to the side.Print Recipe
- 100 g Rolled Oats
- 200 ml Milk
- 400 ml Water
- A pinch of Salt
- Place the oats, salt, milk and water in a saucepan over a medium heat
- Bring to the boil then simmer
- Whilst cooking stir continuously with a wooden spoon to avoid sticking
- Cook for around 7 minutes until you have a consistency to your liking
- Serve warm