Perfect porridge

Porridge (2)Porridge is so easy that no one ever bothers to write down a recipe. Scottish mothers probably had different versions for each child – gloopy, smoothy, oaty, creamy, firm. There are many different declensions (depending on how much milk is used) before we get to the matter of topping with sliced banana or honey. In folklore porridge was poured into the kitchen drawer in the croft and the menfolk could cut a slice out to take with them in their sporrans on the Highlands. This was made with water, but milk is alkaline neutral and an improvement.

Porridge is always best done in two stages, ie start before you get dressed and leave to rest for 20 minutes. (Which is why the three bears left their porridge to cool in the first place in Robert Southey’s 1837 version). This pause can just be a couple of minutes but the important element is two stages of adding the milk. This creates an extra layer of texture and taste. Changing the milk you use too is a subtle but noticeable sway of ringing the changes.

Warm a small pan and toast the oats for a few seconds first. You need enough to nearly cover the base. Then add enough milk to cover and stir with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring until little volcanoes start to erupt. Take off the heat and set aside.

When you are ready, bring the pan back on to the heat and add a dash more milk and stir as it comes back to the boil. Serve at this stage or add a little more milk to change the texture.

It is a funny thing, but porridge is strictly a northern European thing pre-dating dictionaries really derived from pottage. In France though it is hardly known and the translation, according to the OED, is bouillie de flocons d’avoine…so there you go, no wonder it did not catch on…

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