One of the breakfast meals mentioned in Scandinavian cookbooks is a rye or oat porridge. I didn’t have any rye berries in the house, so decided to try the version with old-fashioned oats. I enjoy cooked oatmeal on a winter’s morning with some raisins and brown sugar, and I assumed that porridge would be a similar dish. Unfortunately, I must admit I didn’t enjoy this porridge nearly as much! It’s an easy recipe:
Mix these three ingredients in a casserole dish and cover tightly. Place in a larger dish with water in it, making a water bath for slower cooking. Bake overnight (~8 hours) at 250 degrees.
I could immediately see why this would be a popular dish during times when food is scarce. One cup of dried oatmeal stretched into 3 or more cups of finished porridge. But the result is very different from a more quickly-cooked oatmeal. The tougher fibers dissolved into something softer and gelatinous, much like the texture of a custard.
The recipe suggested topping the porridge with lingonberry jam and butter, or cinnamon and sugar, plus a little bit of milk or cream. I added ALL of the above (substituting a mixed berry jam) and it was still barely edible. The porridge had hardly any flavor of its own and tasted watered down from a typical hot oatmeal dish – not surprising considering it absorbed three times it’s volume in water during the night’s cooking. Also, the texture was just too gummy to be very enjoyable. I’m sure there are many other recipes for “porridge”, and perhaps using a more whole grain like rye berries, or mixing in sugar or other flavorings during the cooking process would result in a tastier product.
To give this oat porridge one more chance, I followed another suggestion and pressed the leftovers into a loaf pan to chill. The next morning I sliced the porridge and fried it in butter, topping it with maple syrup and pear jam. This was slightly more enjoyable and it was a filling breakfast, but I have to say that I doubt I’ll be trying this porridge recipe again.