There's nothing better in a chilly Autumn morning than a bowl of freshly prepared breakfast porridge. The Tod, especially, since it affords him an independence of choosing his toppings and the inevitable consequence of freedom to eat only the toppings. Steel cut oatmeal is our favorite but my version today is made crunchier with addition of quinoa and amaranth. I follow the ratio of 1:3 of grain to liquid, with any combination of grains I have on hand.
A time-saving tip for a busy mom like me is knowing when to hover around the stove and stir; not the entire 25-30 minutes of cooking time, but only for the last 5 minutes, when the grain has turned sticky and has more potential to burn on the bottom of the pot. Before then, just stir the pot every 5 minutes or so while keeping your little ones happy. In the end, perfect porridge is achieved without much elbow grease or accidents happening in the living/play room.
Toasting the grains take an extra 5 minutes at the beginning but it is so worthwhile. It really elevates a regular, oat-mealy porridge into something quite fragrant and earthy. I toast my grains dry but I think you can use a pat of butter, too.
Finally, don't skip/skimp on the salt. I use 1/2 teaspoon of salt, but many will find this too salty. I adore the contrast between the sweet maple syrup, the tartness of the fruit and the saltiness of the porridge. A little bit of salt will turn your porridge from just ok, to WOW!
Breakfast Porridge with Steel Cut Oats, Quinoa and Amaranthmakes a pot enough for one hungry family
1 cup of grains (I chose 1/3 c of each steel cut oats, quinoa and amaranth)
3 cups of liquid (milk, or water, or in my case 1 1/2 cups of each water and whole milk)
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoonful of salt.
If using quinoa, wash it thoroughly under running water to get rid of saponin (a substance that coats the quinoa and makes it taste bitter).
Toast the grain over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes or until it turns a bit golden and smells nutty. This step also helps to dry the quinoa which we just rinsed.
Once toasted, pour in the liquid, crank up the heat to high. Bring everything to boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes to desired doneness (we like our porridge crunchy, so I stop around the 25-min mark) -- stirring occasionally & judiciously.
Topping ideas include:
Brown sugar, maple syrup, a bit more milk to thin out the porridge or cream to make it richer, fruit compote, figs, honey.. practically endless. We used up our last precious homemade peach compote that we canned earlier in Summer.