Porridge aficionados should equip themselves with a ‘spurtle’, a 15th-century kitchen tool which is a rod-like shape and is perfect for stirring porridge. Traditionalists are firm on what makes porridge: only untreated pinhead oatmeal – coarse-, medium- or fine-textured – water and salt. We are all for tradition, but also happy to experiment so our morning porridge keeps our taste buds on their metaphorical toes. Whether traditional or a little left-field, here are a few simple rules to help you make your porridge memorable every morning
1) Slow, even cooking is required, so porridge must be made in a pan; please no microwaves that can create uneven heat spots.
2) Stir continuously for up to 10 minutes, watching for the texture to become thick, but still pourable (spurtles at the ready).
3) Add salt halfway through cooking: adding it too early can toughen the oats; too late can result in a thin ‘afterthought’ taste.
4) For a truly authentic porridge, only pinhead oats will do. But we quite like a mixture of equal parts of coarse pinhead with jumbo rolled oats: toothsome but not a grind. Standard rolled oats give a very sloppy, poor relation to the real thing.
5) Use water as your main liquid and add whole milk, soya, coconut or nut milk – milk should make up somewhere between one-third and one-half of the total liquid – to give you something satisfying and flavoursome without being overly rich.
6) Soak your oats overnight if you want to cut down on cooking time in the morning; this will probably save you five minutes or so. We sometimes soak our oats with some whole nuts in the water. These give off their milk overnight, creating light nut milk to add a subtle richness to porridge.