Let’s Bring Back Porridge – UPDATED

Yep. I said it. Porridge. It doesn’t generally conjure up the most appetizing image, does it? Thick, lumpy, tasteless. Or is it?

A couple of months ago I went to a local co-op and on a whim, I bought some steel-cut oats, kasha (toasted buckwheat),  and spelt berries. That night I went home, perused some internet recipes, and decided that I definitely wanted to make overnight steel cut oats. I had a big crockpot. I had some whole grains. I had water. And raisins and apples and brown sugar and cinnamon. So I experimented.

And boy oh boy was I happy I did.

Friends, slow-cooked grain porridge is like AMAZING. Super amazing. And ridiculously easy. I made mine at like 11:30 at night and when I woke up the next morning – there it was. Hot, thick, creamy, and smelling like heaven porridge.

I have since made this porridge about six times. I’m the only one who generally eats it in our house, so the big crockpot takes up residence in the bottom of the fridge for a while. It just needs a quick zap in the morning in the microwave with a little maple syrup and milk. Like I said – heaven.

You can use just about any kind of whole grain in this recipe. I’ve used millet, kasha, wheat berries, and wheat bulgur in addition to steel-cut oats, kasha, and spelt berries. You can add oat or wheat bran, but I feel that this just makes it a little too mushy and bland for my taste. I always use a cup of steel-cut oats and then a cup or a cup and half of other grains. I like a mix of whole, uncut grains like spelt berries with smaller grains like millet.

I like to add fruit, too, for a little added sweetness. You can use fresh or dried fruit. My favorite combination is raisins with fresh apples.

Overnight Porridge

As the title states, you have to start this the night before it you want breakfast the next morning. This does make a pretty thick porridge. If you like yours thinner, use less grain and/or more liquid. Or just don’t cook it as long. Soaking the grains beforehand softens them and can help make them more digestible.

2-2 1/2 cups whole grains, at least 1 cup steel-cut oats
at least 8 cups water, milk, or a mixture of both
1/2-1 cup raisins (optional)
2 apples, chopped, skin-on
a couple teaspoons ground cinnamon or other sweet spices

In a large crockpot, mix all dry ingredients, including fruit, then add water and/or milk. Set crock pot to low and cook 6-8 hours or overnight.

In the morning, stir thoroughly to reincorporate apples (which will have floated to the top).

Add 1/2 to 1 cup brown sugar at this time if you like. If there are some crusty brown bits stuck to the sides, your crock pot got too hot there and just don’t eat it and (unless you want to) and your porridge will be fine.

Store leftovers covered in the fridge and reheat in the microwave. Add milk and/or syrup or sugar as desired. If reheating on the stovetop, add milk or water to prevent scorching.

Other possible additions:

  • chopped dried apricots and ground ginger and almonds
  • chopped plums and cinnamon
  • chopped  figs with honey
  • dried cranberries with toasted walnuts

And that’s it! The possibilities are endless. I do love the bite of whole grain berries. And in the morning there’s nothing like a toasty warm bowl of cooked porridge with a little sweetened milk. It’s filling, nutritious, and very tasty. Did I mention easy?

I missed a day last week – I’d finished a batch and was too tired to make another batch for the next morning. I had cold cereal instead. It was okay (I used to adore cold cereal), but by 10 am my stomach was growling and by 11:30 I was starving. With the porridge I definitely get hungry, but generally not until noon or later. So if you’re the kind of person who has to work early and/or can’t have lunch until late, something filling like porridge would definitely cure those mid-morning munchies.

Does anyone else like porridge as much as me? Now that I know the joys, I’m more and more tempted to try cornmeal porridge, straight millet, and more savory stuff like kasha with cabbage or like Michelle’s mujadara (it’s in the comments).

What are some of your favorite whole grain recipes?

***UPDATE 10/21/11***

I’ve figured out my favorite grain combination! Steel-cut oats, spelt berries, kamut berries, amaranth, and millet with apples, raisins, and a cinnamon stick. I also found a recipe on the back of a bag of coarse corn meal (i.e. polenta) that sounds amazing, so I’m going to try that next. And as you can see from the comments below, Michelle has become an overnight porridge convert. Who’s next?

And, just because I love porridge-y/pudding-y things, here’s a bonus recipe:

Cold Creamed Rice with Honey-Poached Pears

I made this after having leftover white rice from making rice & beans and some pears that needed using. The combination of cold, creamy rice with the hot, sweet pear sauce is heavenly.

cold cooked white rice
cold heavy cream
any kind of very ripe (but not overripe) pear, chopped
dried cranberries (optional)

Mix rice and a little cold heavy cream until creamy but still thick. Chill. In a small saucepan, combine a few chopped ripe pears with a good drizzle of honey and some dried cranberries. Cook over low heat until pears are soft. Spoon hot pear sauce over cold creamed rice and serve immediately as a fantastically delicious dessert.

7 Responses to “Let’s Bring Back Porridge – UPDATED”
  1. Gonna try making this overnight tonight, with steel cut oats, barley and quinoa. Will report back. I often make it early in the morning, but it’d be nice to wake up to it being ready to eat. Hooray!

  2. Oh HECK YES. This is amazing! Oh, the creaminess, oh, the melding of flavors! Love that I can leave the apple skin on too, and it’s so soft you don’t notice it. Am interested to see how it reheats for me. Thank you Sarah!

    • vintagejenta says:

      Yay! You can theoretically heat it over the stove, which is probably faster if more than one person is eating it, but the porridge will thicken considerably in the fridge, so I would either add a little water or milk when reheating stovetop, or just use very low heat until the porridge melts back into softness.

      I’ve gotta make another crockpot tonight. I’m all out! The only bad thing is I’m too lazy to put the porridge in a different container, so my crockpot insert is always being used, Oh well… Lol. Someday I’ll stop being so lazy… Someday…

      • That batch reheated beautifully in the microwave, providing three more breakfasts for two. The stovetop hot cereal I used to make didn’t reheat well at all. Yet another plus in your overnight porridge column!

      • vintagejenta says:

        I think the porridge might reheat well because the slow cooking really develops the jelly-like properties of soaked grains. So like jellied soup stock, they melt perfectly when reheated.

        I have been remiss in my porridge-cooking. Tonight I have to make another batch. It’s been three days since I’ve had any for breakfast and since I got rid of all my boxed cereal a few weeks ago, I’ve been eating toast. I miss my porridge!

  3. marge201 says:

    Great recipe. Thank you! I’m a huge wheat berry fan, so those always go with steel-cut oats plus amaranth, too. And there’s nothing like raisins in the cooking water to sweeten the whole thing. Instant pot, maybe 15 minutes high pressure and NPR (natural pressure release)?

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