While these days I’m a total expert in how to make porridge (so do read on 😊), breakfast and I have never been friendly. During school, I was the kid who sprinkled a little bit of Weetbix into a cereal bowl, swished around a splash of milk and left the lot in the sink for mum to find. Breakfast done, baby.
As I’ve gotten older and (apparently) more mature, I can’t escape the fact that every nutritionist on the planet agrees that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So, I try to eat something most mornings and a mushroom omelette, yoghurt and muesli or porridge will all see me happily past lunch if I let them.
- Baked Sunday breakfast
- Go anywhere breakfast bars for busy times
- Pineapple and strawberry breakfast loaf
Winter is porridge
Ah, porridge. Maybe breakfast and I are friends after all. It’s low-fat, high-protein, wholegrain, low-GI and it fills you up in a most satisfying way for ages. I adore my bowl of creamy, dreamy porridge on a wintry morning and can’t imagine why everyone doesn’t feel the same way. The trick is to make it from scratch, don’t even think about those little wax paper packets filled with a crumbled something called Maize Maltodextrin. Here’s how to make ‘real’ porridge, as taught to me by my Dad.
To make porridge, all you need are:
- Loving attention and maybe a little salt
To get the creamiest porridge, start with good old plain oats. You can pick up a giant bag of generic oats that will pretty-much last you all winter for under $5. If you’re feeling particularly keen, make your porridge with steel-cut oats. It will take approximately 47 years, but the resulting creamy mix is totally worth it.
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Oats to water ratio
The ratio of oats to water is one part oats to two parts liquid (I add an extra little splash as I like my porridge a little runnier). I cook mine with just water, but you can do half water/half milk if you prefer. I’ve never seen the need, to be honest. The secret to creamy oats isn’t milk, it’s stirring.
Turning oats into porridge
Put a small saucepan on the stove. Put your oats in, put your liquid in and stir until you reach boiling point. Then immediately drop the temperature right down and simmer the oats for at least ten minutes. Around the half-way mark is the time to add a generous pinch or two of salt to taste. Stir whenever you remember – the more you stir, the creamier your porridge and the less the porridge sticks to the bottom of your saucepan…
If you want to reduce your cooking time, you can soak the oats overnight in equal parts water and add the last half of your liquid when you get the soaked oats into your saucepan for cooking. This method requires cooking for only 5 minutes or so, but keep the stirring going.
Serving the porridge
Once looking creamy and thick (the porridge starts to stick to your stirring spoon), remove the porridge from the heat, put a lid on the top of the saucepan and leave the porridge to sit. Besides cooling down to eating point, this allows the flavour of the oats to develop into something extra special. When you’re ready, put your porridge into a serving bowl, sprinkle with a little brown sugar to taste and add a splash of milk.
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Variations on a theme
To enjoy oats every day, vary the way you serve them.
- Spoon on some brown sugar – spoon size dictated by your conscience
- Sprinkle on some cinnamon sugar
- Dollop a generous spoonful of Nutella and top with macerated strawberries
- Add crushed almonds and drizzle with maple syrup
- Top with cream instead of milk at the end
- Stir through your favourite yoghurt
- Drizzle with golden syrup or treacle
- Mix in some cooked apples or pears
- Top with sultanas, craisins or chopped dried apricots or dates
- Add a drizzle of honey
- Drop in a bit of jam to swirl around
- Stir through some seeds like pepitas, sunflower, poppy, flax or sesame – or all of the above
- Combine half porridge with half cooked quinoa for a nutty mix.
If you get stuck
If your porridge very rudely gets stuck to the bottom of your saucepan (remember to stir and stir and stir), all you need to do is cool the pan, pour in enough vinegar to cover the base, leave for a goodly amount of time and… wipe clean.
Are you a porridge kinda gal too?