How to make the ultimate morning porridge | food

What is the best way to make porridge?
Jane, Derby
Porridge, as Goldilocks can attest, is a very personal thing, so it may take a few times to get it “just right.” For Jeremy Lee, chef at Quo Vadis in London and author of Cooking: Simply and Well, for one or more people, the perfect bowl is a “mushy, fruity, soothing brew” with a “soft, low consistency,” he fulfills his mother’s recipe. Soak 1 cup pinhead oats (“not the big flakes: I don’t like them”) overnight in water, then gently heat them in three cups of water and simmer “quietly,” stirring all the time with a pinch of salt, until cooked through. According to the consistency you want.

Another full member of the porridge (and coarse oatmeal) fan club is Guardian’s Felicity Cloake perfectionist. “I went to the World Porridge Championships, and they wouldn’t use rolled oats, which are the oats you generally find in supermarkets,” she says. “It’s steamed and flat, so cook it more quickly, but its flavor and texture are less interesting.” Cloake roasts their oats first, “to bring out the flavor,” then heats them in milk and half and half water, salting them halfway. But Rishi Anand, head of research and development at Dishoom, prefers oat milk: “If you want the oats to be more creamy, add them after the milk has softened. And if you want to keep their shape, add them with cold milk.”

No matter which method you go with, just make sure to cook those oats slowly and keep moving, perhaps with a sprinkler (a dedicated Scottish wood kitchen utensil), depending on who you ask. “It allows you to reach the edges of the pan, so it doesn’t leave anything behind, but I don’t think it’s necessary,” Kluck says. Meanwhile, Lee disagrees: “The spoon will work on the bruised oats, when you get that sticky and dirty porridge. The porridge should be stirred gently, like custard.”

Porridge, of course, does not have to stop when eating oats. Various grains are used all over the world. “The version we make has a whole bunch of Hodmedod’s pretty goodies [purveyors of UK-grown pulses], says Nia Burr, chef and co-owner of the North London Esters CafĂ©, whose porridge contains 50% oats, 20% barley flakes, 20% brine flakes and 10% quinoa. “Be careful with the proportions, though, because quinoa can make it gummy.”

Then there is the class. “My dad taught us how to eat it,” Lee recalls. Crumble dark brown sugar on top, cover with a plate and leave for five minutes. Once the sugar has dissolved, grab a spoon. “Lifts [the porridge] spoon up [it] Through a bowl of cold milk and cream. It’s nice.” Cloake is also one for brown sugar, although for “fruit flavour,” it’s been known to add candied peel, nutmeg, and sweet spices. Burr uses brown butter, blanched almonds, or nut butters, while products Anand includes roasted pistachios, dried dates, mashed bananas or mangoes, or coconut milk powder, “for a nice, sweet, savory flavour.”

Fruit compote (apples or stone fruit, for example) is another option, but Lee doesn’t have much of a truck with them: “I’m very Presbyterian. Best so far is to have a bowl of porridge, then follow that up with a dessert of fruit and yogurt.”

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