‘What’s for dinner?’ asks my lovely husband, I tentatively inform him ‘porridge’. There’s a long and weighty pause, a sigh, then a resigned ‘ok’, I think the 5 different versions of the Almond Cake has made him suspicious of my more alternative kitchen experiments.
The thing is, I really, really want to love porridge, but I don’t. I’ve tried a huge variety of different toppings, milk’s, cooking methods and I still think it’s a big bowl of blah, give me Hannah’s Sunday Brunch any day of the week! The problem is, rolled oats are a nutritious way to start the day. Not only do they give you that famous sustainable energy to get you through the morning but they help lower blood cholesterol, boost HDL cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, contain antioxidants, iron, manganese, zinc, vitamin E… the list just keeps going!
Therefore when I stumbled across an article about savoury porridge, I was intrigued. I have alway preferred savoury to sweet and wondered if this could be the turning point in my relationship with oats. I decided to use my favourite risotto ingredients as inspiration and it started off well, the smell of sautéed shallots and mushrooms was delicious and this was only compounded by the addition of garlic and thyme. Adding half a glass of white wine meant the savoury smell intensified and I started to regret that I was going to be ruining this with oats!
At this point I couldn’t put it off any longer, I had to add the oats and it felt weird! I stirred them in and then added the first ladleful of stock turning the mixture into a sloppy unappealing mess. However, I was seeing this through to the end and kept ladling and stirring until all the stock was absorbed and the oats were cooked. Decanting onto a plate, I added a slice of bacon and handful of pea shoots in the hope that this would help the dish look and taste a little more appealing. Setting the plates down, I (faked) confidence, grinned at my husband and committed to my first mouthful…. I was amazed, it was actually tasty! More than tasty, I didn’t even need the piece of bacon I’d cooked to help it go down! Finally, a recipe for porridge that I can actually enjoy at any time of day!
Mushroom & Thyme Porridge
(Serves 2 as a main or provides 3-4 portions for breakfast)
150g Organic rolled oats
750ml vegetable stock
3 mushrooms – finely chopped
2 shallots – finely chopped
2 garlic cloves – finely chopped
1 tbsp coconut or olive oil
1 heaped tsp of fresh thyme leaves
1/2 glass of white wine (optional)
2 slices of bacon (optional, omit to make this vegetarian/vegan)
Handful of pea shoots, spinach or watercress
1. In a large saucepan, gently sauté the shallots and mushrooms in a tbsp of coconut oil on a gentle heat until they have softened and started to brown – approx. 12-15 minutes
2. Add the garlic and thyme and sauté gently for another 5 minutes
3. Increase the heat and add the wine. It should sizzle, let the wine cook down to almost nothing
4. On the same heat, add the oats stirring them into the mushroom mixture
5. Add your first ladleful of stock, stir and let the oats absorb it. Turn the heat back down at this point.
6. Continue to slowly add the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring as you go. It should take about 30 minutes to stir in and absorb all of the stock into a risotto like consistency. Feel free to wander off and do other jobs between ladlefuls.
7. As soon as the oats have softened and absorbed all of the stock, remove from the heat and serve. Top with your slice of bacon (if using) and pea shoots.