Genius Recipes

April Bloomfield's English Porridge

By • April 10, 2013 • 48 Comments

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Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: Porridge, just right. 

"This is a breakfast game-changer," Food52er Frank Ball wrote to me. He was talking about oatmeal.

More specifically, he was talking about the English Porridge in April Bloomfield's trophy-winning A Girl and Her Pig. It's easily overlooked, what with all the crispy pig ears and banoffee pie. But like everything Bloomfield touches, it's handled with subtle brilliance, and feels somehow new and age-old.

If you've seen it before, it's because the Amateur Gourmet, the Wednesday Chef, and Food52's own Rivka have already signed off on it.

Now the Food52 editorial squad agrees -- it's genius. Here's why: 

The 50/50 Oat Blend

On its own, a bowl of steel-cut oats is a chewy, hearty coal miner's breakfast. A porridge made from rolled oats runs smooth and doesn't bite back -- my great-grandmother, who, by the time I knew her, had no teeth, was legendary for hers.

I refuse to knock either of these, lest the toothless great-grandmothers and coal miners of the world come after me. But can we all agree that they can get a bit tiresome midway through the bowl?

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Too much chew, too little chew -- this one's just right: Bloomfield calls for equal parts of both styles of oats, which means the steel-cut bits keep their pop, while the rolled oats melt around them. And getting them to the perfect texture only takes 20 minutes.

More: What's the difference? Get to know your oats (and groats) with our handy primer.

The 50/50 Liquid Blend

Cooking with half milk, half water is enough to make it feel rich and loving, without slogging you down first thing in the morning.

The Salt!

This will seem like a lot of salt. But it won't be too much, because at the end you'll add something sweet and something milky and it will all live in harmony. 

It might also make you think of risotto, and next time you'll want to try some parmesan cheese and a runny egg on top instead. This makes a good breakfast too. 

 

The Formula

Perhaps most importantly, like the most genius of recipes, it's a simple enough formula that you'll memorize it quickly, and start cooking all your porridge this way. You'll see.  

The Dressing

Porridge, especially the dressing of it, is extremely personal. Bloomfield is quite specific -- a five-fingered pinch of brown sugar in the middle, with a dribble of milk around the perimeter. I'm with her, but I'll add that the brown sugar should be generous and molten and not get stirred in, and that you should keep a pitcher of cold milk nearby to re-up. 

But if your upbringing recommends a well of melted butter or honey or maple instead, you do that. 

So, how will you make yours? 

april bloomfield's porridge

April Bloomfield's English Porridge

Adapted slightly from A Girl and Her Pig (Ecco, 2012)

Serves 2 to 3

1 1/2 cups whole milk, plus a few splashes
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons Maldon or other flaky sea salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
2 tablespoons sugar or maple syrup

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

Photos by James Ransom

More:
Overnight Miso Porridge
April Bloomfield's Lemon Caper Dressing
The Piglet 2013 Final Round (spoiler alert: A Girl and Her Pig wins!)

Tags: Genius, genius recipes, porridge, oatmeal, April Bloomfield

Comments (48)

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about 1 month ago robin lewis

i made this for the 2nd time this morning. i gave my son a bowl of it, sweetened w/brown sugar, and i had a bowl of it w/parmesan and a runny egg on top: the savory version was good, but i'll have to try it again a few times to really acquire the savory route!

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2 months ago ihaventpoisonedyouyet

Wonderful oatmeal! And a wonderful, respectful cover that reminds me that meat doesn't magically arrive shrink wrapped in a refrigerator case. It's a brave statement and makes me more appreciative of the process.

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5 months ago Ephany

What a picture. A dead pig. Really? Disgusting.

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5 months ago 1natalplum

I had to laugh when I saw this because just last week I used this combo of oats simply because I didn't have enough of either to make a full batch. Delicious! Chesterfieldsue, I make enough for six servings, put four servings into a container to cool and refrigerate, and serve the remaining two. Next day, I heat the desired amount of portions with a little milk and it's perfect and very fast. Keeps in the fridge for five days. I have also frozen with great results.

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7 months ago chesterfieldsue

what if you would like to freeze this and eat it over the course of a week for breakfast? have any of you tried this or have suggestions?

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12 months ago efirewood

I'm so glad to have discovered this! I've made it at least a dozen times now. So simple and so good. I add lots of cinnamon. Using the Maldon salt (which I didn't know about before and now I'm using every day) really makes a difference.

Stringio

12 months ago Judith A. Kittenz

I found in my english grocery in paris all the correct oats ingredients from ireland and this is heaven I confirm.

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12 months ago 20ozMocha

Rabid oatmeal fan here- and this is the best I've ever had.

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about 1 year ago WendyCNY

Eight years ago my daughter spent a semester abroad in Cork, Ireland. I went to visit her and she took me to a local restaurant that had the most wonderful oatmeal. It was creamy, chewing and so heart warming and one of the best breakfast I ever had. Since then I have been searching for a recipe to not only replicate that but also the whole experience I had in Ireland. Thank you, thank you, thank you for emailing April Bloomfield's English Porridge. I found it. I have eaten it everyday since I got your email. I close my eyes and I am in Cork. I just wish you emailed this back in November because I could have enjoy it all winter. It's to warm to eat oatmeal in the spring and summer.

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about 1 year ago KtMcB

After the tragedy here in Boston Monday, my household need some serious comfort food early yesterday morning. This recipe popped up when I went on line. Everyone loved it - salt and all, added chopped apples, raisins, saigon cinnamon and a lot more than a five finger pinch of brown sugar. like a good porridge, the comfort stuck to our ribs all day. This morning my husband asked for more of the food52 oatmeal. Thanks- we needed that!

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about 1 year ago denise&food

I made it for the second time and used less salt -1/4 tsp. It is the texture that is so good. Not your boring oatmeal! It can be saved in one cup servings and microwaved later with great results.

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about 1 year ago Regine

Very good; however, I used only 1 tsp not 1 1/2 of sea salt, and that was salty enough for me. I also added 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract, and, being the sweet lover that I am, I added plenty of brown sugar on my serving. My husband and 8 year old were very skeptical to eat something both salty and sweet; I was able to convince my son who ended up liking it, but my husband did not (probably because he watches his blood pressure).

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about 1 year ago AmyNW

So disgusted by the photo on the cover of April Bloomfield's book!

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about 1 year ago Andreas

I get that the picture might not be everybody's cup of tea, but keep in mind that April Bloomfield's breakthrough restaurant is called The Spotted Pig.

I too thought that the cover image was coming on a little strong, but then I thought that for meat eaters like myself, it was a good reminder of where our food comes from.

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about 1 year ago AmyNW

Thanks Andreas, I appreciate your perspective. It turned my stomach.

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about 1 year ago Sunni

I use a pinch of salt, but substitute 1/8 cup ground flax seed for 1/8 cup of the steel cuts and add 1 TBSP Benefiber for fiber and 1 TBSP coconut oil for extra creaminess. I stir in 1 diced apple and 1/4 cup chopped walnuts that have been sauteed in butter and cinnamon. Really yummy and hearty.

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about 1 year ago DeirdreMS

Way too much salt for my taste. Sorry to be a bore but the whole thing seems like overkill.

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about 1 year ago PaigeP

We're adding honey instead of sugar, chia seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice and egg whites stired in! Amazing - and topping with fruit - blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or even a banana.

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about 1 year ago joannajw

Sorry, but just looking at those pictures brings back bad memories of boarding school. Forced to eat 2 ladles of it, whether thick (enough to stand up the ladle); thin; lumpy and/or burnt. I cannot go there!

Stringio

about 1 year ago JanieMac

I love porridge for breakfast, mine is made with 1% milk and Irish organic rolled jumbo oats. I tried the salt but just can't do it. I top it with just a dribble of cold milk, cut-up dried apricots and toasted flaked almonds. I am hooked!

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about 1 year ago NancyfromVictoria

Do you think I could use 1 percent milk. I know it won't be so rich and wonderful but I am dieting?

Miglore

about 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Senior Editor of Food52

That would be just fine.

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about 1 year ago tastysweet

I noticed that ngardner microwaved her batch. But I don't know what size bowl was used or how long it was microwaved. I too use the Vietnamese Cinnamon in lieu of sugar when making my usual oatmeal. I also add the Chia Seeds, blueberries and my puréed frozen mango. Really makes it creamy.
I peel 3 mangoes, cut them up, put in food processor with a little dark brown sugar and Vietnamese Cinnamon. Purée and put into ice cube trays, freeze and then into a Baggie back into the freezer. Good for smoothies too.

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about 1 year ago ngardener

Well, after reading this I just had this for lunch (and why not?). I used soy milk, no salt or sugar. I like the texture with the two types of oatmeal. It really doesn't seem bland to me because I add some really good Vietnamese cinnamon. I cook in a large bowl in the microwave--takes only a few minutes that way.

Stringio

about 1 year ago Аля Самохина

Love this cup! Anybody knows where I can get it?

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about 1 year ago denise&food

This was awesome. I have been making oatmeal (steel cut) in the crockpot overnight with great success. This was so much more interesting and satisfying. Thanks!

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about 1 year ago roadee

Wow. I can't wait to try this. I love the idea of mixing the two types of oats together. Thanks for sharing!

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about 1 year ago bluejeangourmet

agree that this one is a game-changer! made it this morning and it was low-maintenance enough to have on the stove while I also made my tea and my son's bottle, did some dishes, and checked my email. enjoyed a bowl before work, with my 9 month old enjoying my leftovers!

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about 1 year ago cisco

I had recently discovered wonderful organic steel cut oats and love to soak it in water the night before to cut down on the cooking time in the morning.And now I have all these new ideas to draw from - from adding rolled to the mixture and cooking it in the milk blend. Perfection! And i LOve the idea of adding something savoury particularily for those late night healthy cArb fix (late night healthy carb snacks is what my doctor ordered to help me sleep soundly through the night! - And with the addition of Parmesan I am certain that I will look forward to it)

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about 1 year ago Valentina Z

What vegan alternative to whole milk would you reccomend for this recipe?

Miglore

about 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Senior Editor of Food52

Any non-dairy milk you like would work (it even works with just water -- it just needs a little more help from the toppings). I think homemade almond milk would be especially good. Here's how to make it: http://food52.com/blog...

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about 1 year ago mtrelaun

I had no cow milk the other morning so I prepared the porridge with soy milk and it was still smashing!

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about 1 year ago cookinginvictoria

Yay -- so happy to see this featured as a genius recipe! We are an oatmeal loving household, and I make a big batch of this recipe every Saturday morning. For years I have been making oatmeal with 1/2 water and 2/2 milk ratio, but it wasn't until I discovered April's cookbook and this recipe that I started adding steel cut oats to regular oats. (I also add some wheat germ and flaxseed to the mix as well.) Agree that this yields the perfect texture. I also cut back on the salt. In addition to brown sugar and the required pool of milk, our favorite toppings are toasted nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and almond butter. Occasionally, we will also garnish with a spoonful genius granola, which is pretty darn delicious.

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about 1 year ago cookinginvictoria

Argh -- I wish there was an edit function on comments! I meant to write: "For years I have been making oatmeal with a 1/2 water and 1/2 milk ratio...." Also meant to say at the end: "Occasionally we will also garnish with a spoonful of genius granola, which is pretty darn delicious."

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about 1 year ago lloreen

Ooh, can I have some more, Sir?
This looks actually appealing.
I have a horror of porridge after being forced to eat instant oatmeal with the consistency and taste of lukewarm cardboard on many a childhood backpacking trip. I might have to make an exception to my oatmeal ban to try this out.

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about 1 year ago fhp

I 'm sure that all my Scottish ancestors would be "ruullin in thar grrraves" with a porridge as glorious as this. We were taught that proper porridge was a bitter pill to be swallowed salty and plain. My stoic father would eat this then swallow a raw egg while my genteel mother drowned her oatmeal and sorrows with the darkest brown sugar and butter and cream behind his back. She'd share a secret spoonful with all of us children who were happy and giggly accomplices to this not very strict and presbyterian porridge.

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about 1 year ago carswell

My father - a Scot born and bred - used to eat his oatmeal with salt and looked askance at the rest of us who added milk and brown sugar.

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about 1 year ago jbban

I made this last week with half the amount of salt (as recommended by The Wednesday Chef), and still found it a touch too salty. For people who don't cook with a lot of salt, I'd recommend starting with a smaller amount and then increasing to taste. I absolutely loved the texture of the porridge, though.

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about 1 year ago bek1468

I love this porridge! So yummy! And it reheats well the next morning.

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about 1 year ago Roberta Duncan

genius idea!!! who knew!!! We make a BIG meal of morning porridge...adding freshly ground flax/hemp hearts/freshly roasted seed and or nuts/ sliced dried or fresh fruit...love morning power...and cinnamon...

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about 1 year ago Kitchen Butterfly

My girls are keen on brown sugar and maple, I hope I can entice them with this version! I am seriously leaning towards going savoury, with shrimp (in the manner of grits, which I haven't tried. BTW) and some crusty bread. Time will tell......especially as I have steel cut oats!

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about 1 year ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

This porridge changed my life, too, but I do cut back to 1 teaspoon of salt. It is amazing. And if you make extra, it reheats well the next day with a little extra milk.

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about 1 year ago Andreas

I've got three young kids, so no time for 20 minute breakfast prep on the every day. BUT, I will try this for the weekend. I love the savoury version too.

Right now, I use rolled oats cooked in 50% almond milk, 50% water. Served on top of sliced banana, berries (fresh in summer, frozen in winter) and a dollop of home made apple sauce. That way I know whatever else they might be eating throughout the day, the start was right.

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about 1 year ago Lindsey Shaw

Try this recipe: http://www.thekitchn.com...
I don't find regular steel cut pats too tough and my 2 year old daughter loves them. I make this often and I'm always amazed and how easy, good, and they last. Great for a quick healthy breakfast all week long!

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about 1 year ago Fairmount_market

I can highly recommend this approach of starting the oatmeal the night before. I also like adding in teff grain or chia seeds for extra body and flax seeds for a little crunch: http://food52.com/recipes...

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about 1 year ago thirschfeld

for me it is always savory, parmesan, broth and butter.

Merrill

about 1 year ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Yum!

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about 1 year ago Marian Bull

Marian is an editor at Food52.

This porridge changed my life!