April Bloomfield's English Porridge

April 10, 2013

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. 

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"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?


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

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

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lisa London
    Lisa London
  • Thalia
  • robin lewis
    robin lewis
  • ihaventpoisonedyouyet
  • Ephany
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Lisa L. February 22, 2018
I try most oatmeal recipes that come my way and this is my favorite of all time. My daughter will eat it, but she prefers Ellie Krieger's recipe for Morning Glory Oatmeal, baked with chopped apples, grated carrots, raisins, coconut, and pecans. It, too, is delicious, but more labor intensive, time-consuming to prepare, and not as just plain oatmealy as this . To me, this porridge is like a warm blanket, but I have no trouble eating it no matter the weather. By the way, I don't add the sweetener at the end; I add a drizzle of maple syrup along with milk before I eat it.
Thalia August 9, 2014
I absolutely love mine with sweetened condense milk, a splash of good vanilla, and a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg.
robin L. March 1, 2014
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!
ihaventpoisonedyouyet February 4, 2014
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.
Ephany November 8, 2013
What a picture. A dead pig. Really? Disgusting.
1natalplum November 7, 2013
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.
chesterfieldsue September 20, 2013
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?
efirewood May 8, 2013
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.
Judith A. May 5, 2013
I found in my english grocery in paris all the correct oats ingredients from ireland and this is heaven I confirm.
20ozMocha April 24, 2013
Rabid oatmeal fan here- and this is the best I've ever had.
Wendy5998 April 18, 2013
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.
KtMcB April 17, 2013
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!
denise&food April 16, 2013
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.
Regine April 15, 2013
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).
AmyNW April 15, 2013
So disgusted by the photo on the cover of April Bloomfield's book!
Andreas D. April 15, 2013
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.
AmyNW April 15, 2013
Thanks Andreas, I appreciate your perspective. It turned my stomach.
Sunni April 15, 2013
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.
DeirdreMS April 15, 2013
Way too much salt for my taste. Sorry to be a bore but the whole thing seems like overkill.
PaigeP April 14, 2013
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.
joannajw April 14, 2013
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!
JanieMac April 14, 2013
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!