Porridge is not often included in the sexy breakfast category but is a feeling or opinion borne, I think from the drudgery of cold winter mornings, when the sweetness craving of my child belly received not cocoa pops but rather in a further nail in the proverbially school day coffin, the blandness of stodgy oats, cooked in water. The banality of it seemed to starchly stick to the greyness of the day and set the tone for what was to come. My adult belly is no less forgiving but my adult self now has control over what I cook and just as importantly how I cook it. I won’t bore anyone by extolling on about the health benefits of oats of which there are many but rather I want to focus just on how damn tasty and fulfilling porridge can be when cooked correctly and by adding a touch of creativity and flair.
So what do you need to know and what makes the difference? There are a couple of things to consider; the oats, the liquid, the cooking, and the toppings. There is little to be said about oats other than most of the oats that you will buy in supermarkets are rolled oats. Try to avoid instant oats if possible only for the reason that they tend to be slightly more processed. Besides from that my recommendation is to try to buy Irish and organic where possible. In terms of a portion, a good guide is about 50g per person.
In terms of liquid I recommend a ratio of liquid to oats of approx 4 or 5:1 and this is where you need to start making decisions. My preference is for half milk, half water though feel free to go 100% on either of these. If you’re avoiding or limiting dairy try oat milk or unsweetened almond milk. Half water, half coconut milk is a real treat if you love coconut flavours.
When it comes to cooking try adding the oats to a dry pan on high heat and toast the oats for a few minutes, tossing and stirring occasionally. Although not necessary it adds an aromatic nutty quality to the oats that helps elevate the flavour. Add the oats and liquid of choice to a medium sized saucepan and cook on hob low and slow for 10-15 minutes until the porridge thickens to the desired consistency of dropping off the spoon.
In relation to toppings this is where your creativity can flow. In terms of fruit the world is your oyster, anything from stewed fruit to a jam, dried fruits to fresh, anything is possible. I love a combination of toasted almonds, which are great for adding texture, banana, and maple syrup. If making porridge with coconut milk try topping with some toasted coconut flakes. Or how about adding a touch of decadence to your porridge with a good glug of Baileys? The possibilities are endless.
100g porridge oats (toasted if desired, see note above)
250ml milk (full or half fat) plus extra for serving
Pinch of sea salt