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SARAH RANKIN: Here's why porridge is so much more than breakfast!

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Sarah Rankin.
Sarah Rankin.

Next Saturday I will be hosting the Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship and I am all set to be inspired and excited by our national dish. Porridge is for so much more than breakfast!

There are contestants from all over the world competing in this gloriously eccentric celebration of porridge oats and the array of creativity on show is simply amazing. I’ve seen some of the entries and I cannot wait to see how they turn out on the big day, Saturday, October 7 at Carrbridge Village Hall in the heart of the stunning Cairngorms.

Not content with waiting until the event, I’ve had a go at one or two of my own porridge ideas. And I’ve decided that going savoury is a brilliant way to switch up our national dish.

I was inspired by the Chinese dish of congee, a breakfast dish of rice porridge, also used to nurse the poorly back to health. I switched the rice for rolled oats, cooking them in vegetable stock mixed with half-an-inch of grated ginger and two crushed garlic cloves until very broken down and creamy.

Porridge can be more than just breakfast!
Porridge can be more than just breakfast!

I topped it with stir fried garlic, ginger and spring onions and a good dollop of my beloved Lao Gan Ma, crispy chilli oil (you can pick up several varieties of this in Asian food markets). You could experiment with other flavours by adding grilled chicken marinated in soy and honey and topping with sesame seeds, or go Italian by adding mushrooms and onions before adding the stock, and topping with grated parmesan to make a porridge risotto. If you check out the livestream of the Golden Spurtle event on Facebook, you’ll be able to get even more inspiration!

Here are my top three oaty suggestions:

  • Crispy crumb – take your fried chicken to the next level by using rolled oats as your crispy coating. Simply mix the oats with salt, pepper and a pinch of paprika for colour and little spice hit. Dip your homemade goujons in seasoned flour, beaten egg and then the oats before frying. To make them extra crisp, repeat the egg and oats dip for a double crunch!
  • Four-ingredient flapjacks – easy to make and great for lunchboxes or quick breakfasts, these flapjacks can be topped with whatever you like. I like a slick of smooth peanut butter and a few slices of banana on mine. Take 300g rolled oats, 200g melted salted butter, 100g golden caster sugar and 3 tbsp of golden syrup, mix them all together, press into a tin and bake for 20 minutes at 170°.
  • Savoury granola – a great topper for hummus, or a crunchy seasoning for your lunchtime soup, this granola is an umami taste sensation. Mix together jumbo oats, chopped cashews, pumpkin seeds, chopped cashews and nigella seeds with soy sauce, runny honey (please buy local, supermarket honey is just overpriced syrup) and some chilli flakes. I love the smokiness of Ancho Chill flakes if you can get them. Regular chilli flakes are fine if not. Mix them all together and bake at 150° for 20 minutes. Store in a jar in the cupboard, not the fridge which will make them go soft.

If those porridge tips aren’t enough to get the taste buds going, check out the livestream of the Golden Sprutle event and see what the experts are up to.

Sarah Rankin is a MasterChef finalist, food writer, cookbook author, private dining chef, food event host and demonstrator and lover of all things local. Check out her content @sarahrankincooks

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