Whole Grain Porridge

So far, Spring is a discombobulated season at best. It’s snowing outside. It’s 20-degrees colder than it normally is at the end of March–which isn’t all that warm to begin with. And yet, my tulips are starting to emerge from the earth. Maybe my tulips know something I don’t know. But I doubt it.

Being that it’s still (stubbornly) the sort of weather that makes me want a hot breakfast, and being that I’ve grown a little tired of my usual oats (even jazzed up to mimic Chai Tea), I lately ventured into the land of porridge. An unfortunate word, porridge. Functional, serviceable, but not poetic or pretty. Granted, it suits the mealy breakfast food it names, but a title less reminiscent of Dickensian London would be nice. However, I recently had something called “Pompanoosuc Porridge” at the King Arthur Flour Bakery cafe, and it was a revelation. More than mere oatmeal, the porridge included a variety of whole grains to create a more complex flavor and texture.

I decided to give it a try at home. I used my old standby, steel cut oats, with bulgur wheat and millet. It worked so well, was so incredibly easy, and came out tasting so good, I wondered why such culinary maneuverings hadn’t occurred to me before. Steel cut oats are loaded with good nutrition, but millet and wheat add a wider variety of nutrients as well as all of that good, lasting energy that comes from whole grains. I like to use breakfast as an opportunity to front-load my day in terms of nutrition, and this porridge does the job. It’s tasty and gastronomically noble.

Whole grains of all kinds are pretty easy to get in most grocery stores these days. I like to get my oats, bulgur, and millet in the bulk aisles.  It’s cheaper that way, and tends to be fresher because of the high turnover.  You can also get only as much as you want or need with minimal waste and packaging, which is both economically and environmentally noble. It may have a pedestrian name, but it seems this porridge is rather pleased with itself. As will be you, the eater.

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WHOLE GRAIN PORRIDGE

1/2 cup steel cut oats

1/2 cup bulgur wheat

1/4 cup millet

4 cups water

The whole grains: steel cut oats, millet, and bulgur wheat.

The whole grains: steel cut oats, millet, and bulgur wheat.

This couldn’t be easier: Just mix everything together in a medium sauce pan, bring it to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover it and let it cook gently for 30 minutes.  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

If you want to make the steps just a bit more complicated, but have a slightly better texture, you can do the following:

Add the grains to the dry sauce pan over medium heat.  Stir frequently to give the grains a very light toasting–you will just start to smell them toasting, but use care, as these will burn quickly.  Trust me.  I’ve scorched oats and it’s neither pretty nor tasty.

While the grains toast, bring the water to a boil in an electric kettle (if you use a stove top kettle, wait a few minutes to toast the grains as the stove top kettle takes significantly longer to boil).

Add the boiling water to the pan *very carefully*.  It will boil vigorously as soon as it hits the pan, spitting and sputtering all the while.  Stir the mixture, lower the heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes.  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

Whole grain porridge, with bananas and brown sugar.

Whole grain porridge, with bananas and brown sugar.

I like my porridge with maple syrup and milk.  Or raisins.  Or blueberries.  Or bananas and brown sugar.  Or strawberries.  The options are endless.  And tasty.

Happy breakfasting!

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