Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Porridge; How Do You Eat Yours?

After a weekend of far too much food and wine, calories a-go-go, it’s time to get back to basics for this DinnerLady. There is enough chocolate here to see the mini-Ladies through till about next Easter, so temptation is all around. However (though requiring remarkable restraint, I must add) even I draw the line at Cadbury’s mini-eggs for breakfast despite the fact that I am absolutely addicted to their pretty pastel crisp shells and chocolate interior.
So, I think it’s porridge this week again. Having always just slung mine in the microwave for 2 minutes, I was inspired recently by Mary Carney's column in the Sunday Times to try slow-cooking my porridge on the hob. Oh my … I have to report that it was “road to Damascus” experience for me. I can only recommend you give it a go, it is just an amazing difference. Just so much creamier, the tastiest porridge I’ve ever had. I would urge you with every fibre of my being to give it a go! I know we all lead busy lives so there is rarely time to slow cook porridge before dashing out the door to work in the morning. Also most modern offices are equipped with microwave but not a full oven, so it’ll be microwave all the way for most of us. But on the weekend maybe think about making it slowly in a saucepan for yourself – it’s just delicious.
PorridgeHere’s my method, for now… As featured on the My City Cuisine wiki, right.

This recipe serves one, or double up for extras! The cup measurements I use are the American cup measures, that you can buy easily in cooking stores like Kitchen Complements or Stock in Dublin or online from sites like Lakeland.co.uk, or not – as long as you use double the amount of liquid to oats, I think it is fine. 
Simmering on the hob
·         ₃/₄ cups of porridge oats
·         ₃/₄ cups of water
·         ₃/₄ cups of milk
·         Pour the liquid over the oats – leave it to soak for a few minutes if you can, while making a cup of tea to go with it 
·         Bring to a gentle boil on a medium heat, and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring continuously (the longer the oats have soaked, the less time they  need boiling)

Now here comes the fun part – toppings! What’s your favourite? I love, for a treat, to just sprinkle some soft brown sugar on top and see it sort of melt in – very delicious. And certainly another splash of cold milk, although I know many like cream, I’m not a great cream lover really. But each to their own!

Sprinkled with dark brown sugar
Other toppings that I love are a sliced banana with a squeeze of maple syrup over the top, or a spoon of apple sauce and a sprinkle of cinnamon. My daily topping is usually just a little Splenda and a handful of flaked almonds, or even a spoon of jam stirred in (Follain raspberry with no added sugar is my current favourite). Of course, a handful of any fresh fruit is tasty in porridge – try a tiny drop of vanilla essence with a handful of blueberries, but go very easy on the vanilla, it’s strong stuff. Or sprinkle some raisins in while it's cooking on the hob - they go all plump and juicy, really nice. A sprinkle of cinnamon, a spoon of apple compote, some leftover stewed rhubarb ... It's a moveable feast, it's all about whatever you have to hand and whatever tickles your fancy. my mum used to stay in a B&B when dropping my sister and I back to university in Northern Ireland where your porridge was served with a wee drop of Drambuie in it, and certainly in Scotland, a "wee dram" of Scotch in the porridge is not unusual. Probably not ideal for your daily fare though!

Now, for my last tip before I sign off – the saucepan. It is notoriously hard to clean out the porridge pan, but it is made easier by firstly, using a non-stick pan, and then; as per Sr. May Aidan, who ran our school refectory with an iron fist (to the point where she was usually referred to as BA after BA Baracus from the A-Team)  to soak milk pans in cold water. It works!

PS – if you are passing a health food shop, do nip in and see if they have Kilbeggan Organic Porridge, a real Irish success story, it’s easily the creamiest porridge I’ve ever tasted and it’s great to support a small local business.

Sarah xx


  1. Ok, promise to give porridge another try after this blog....IFF you could please post the recipe for the delish choco/caramel bites I sampled in your house before...I think they might have been a Mary Carney creation?!

  2. I'll post that recipe shortly - they are devine!

  3. I had my porridge this morning, I always make it half milk/ half water and on the hob and it's fab. Spoon of sugar and dollop of raspberry jam yummy. And there's definitely a science behind it with regards to the difference between microwave and hob!

  4. I eat porridge practically every day, it's amazing stuff!

    When going to work I put it on the hob on no. 1, by the time I've come down after my shower/getting dressed it is almost ready - in a non stick pot.

    I add chopped fresh strawberries, sliced almonds, sliced banana and honey - my current fave. Or fresh blueberries, or linseeds and honey (or flaxseed), dried blueberries from super valu - oh the list goes on!

  5. some more great suggestions there...Good tip too about leaving it simmer on the hob!