Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Cardamom Porridge

Porridge is just a generic name for some grain boiled in water until it thickens, like oatmeal. I have always just called oatmeal oatmeal, but porridge sounds more quaint, so there you have it.

I decided to try McCann's Steel-cut Oats when I saw them on a shelf at the Schnucks on Arsenal. It turns out they are quite different from the Quaker Quick Rolled Oats I was raised on. For one thing they have a much more robust texture than quick rolled oats, and they have a stronger, and much more distinct flavor as well. They are oats, so they taste like oats, but the taste is more structured than quick rolled oats. They also take much longer to cook - about 45 minutes, between boiling the water and then the oats.... but it's definitely worth it.

I left the above picture unscaled, so you can see what they mean by steel-cut oats. Click on the image to see the up-close-and-personal details of the oats.

I've tried a number of different combinations of flavorings before I finally devised one that preserved the excellent flavor of the oats, and the traditional presentation style, as well as bringing in something new and exciting (at least to me it is... you may not be able to get as excited about oatmeal as I can).

This serves 1-2 people, depending on how much of a main course you make it:

3 cups of water
3/4 cup of McCann's Steel-cut Irish Oats
1 tblsp. unsalted butter
4 tblsp. sugar (to taste)
1 tblsp. ground cardamom seeds (cardamom powder)
1/2 cup red flame raisins (or raisins of your liking)
3 cups milk

Bring the water to a brisk boil, add the oats, and stir until they begin to thicken, then reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes (the can says 30, but that's always been too much for me... might only need 20 minutes really). Stir the oats occasionally while they're simmering to keep the water and oats thoroughly mixed, and to prevent them from burning on the bottom of the pot.

Once they oats are done, remove them from the heat.

Add the butter, sugar, cardamom, and raisins to the oats, and stir until mixed well. Then let it cool for about 10 minutes. This will give it time to set up nice and thick, so it will hold up better in the milk.

To serve, spoon out a portion of oats into a bowl, then pour about 1 cup of milk over them, or until the oats just peek through. Serve promptly, so the oats are still hot underneath the cool milk. The milk will cool each bite of oats, but the oats will retain their natural consistency and flavor. Yum!

This dish is really outstanding comfort food. It would be great to have for breakfast, but since I don't get up early enough to spend an hour making breakfast, and you really can't re-heat oatmeal (so I've learned), I make it for dinner.

You can really deck this dish out by sautéing the raisins in the butter with almonds, and just admit that it's actually the Indian dessert, Kheer, served as breakfast (or dinner, in my case), but with oats instead of rice.

Here is a video from Off the Shelf Cooking with Ameena for a simple, easy Kheer: http://showmepods.com/kheer.html.

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