Porridge (also spelled porage, parritch, etc.) is a dish made by boiling oats (rolled, crushed, or steel cut) or other cereal meals in water, milk, or both. It is usually served hot in a bowl or dish. Other grains or legumes may be used, although dishes prepared with other ingredients are often referred to by other names, such as polenta or grits.
Oat and semolina porridge are the most popular varieties in many countries. In addition to oats, cereal meals used for porridge include rice, wheat, barley, and corn. Legumes such as peasemeal can also be used to make porridge. Gruel is similar to porridge but is much more like a drink; it has a very thin consistency and is made with water. It was served in Victorian workhouses as a standard meal.
Porridge was a traditional food in much of Northern Europe and Russia. Barley was a common grain used, though other grains and yellow peas could be used, depending on local conditions. It was primarily a savory dish, with a variety of meats, root crops, vegetables, and herbs added for flavor. Porridge could be cooked in a large metal kettle over hot coals, or heated in a cheaper earthenware container by adding hot stones until boiling hot. Until leavened bread and baking ovens became commonplace in Europe, porridge was a typical means of preparing cereal crops for the table. It was also commonly used as prison food for inmates in the UK prison system and so "doing porridge" became a slang term for a sentence in prison.
In many modern cultures, porridge is eaten as a breakfast dish, often with the addition of salt, butter, sugar, milk or cream, depending on regional preferences. In the English speaking Caribbean islands it is common to add cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and almond essence to the oats, water and milk. Some manufacturers of breakfast cereal, such as Scott's Porage Oats, sell ready-made versions. Porridge is one of the easiest ways to digest grains or legumes, and is used traditionally in many cultures as a food to nurse the sick back to health. It is also commonly eaten by athletes in training.
Some varieties of porridge include:
- Oat porridge, traditional and common in English-speaking countries, Nordic countries, and Germany. Oat porridge has been found in the stomachs of 5,000 year old Neolithic bog bodies in Central Europe and Scandinavia. Varieties of modern oat porridge include these:
- Steel-cut oat porridge is common in Scotland, the Isle of Man, and Ireland, where, in the last case, it is known as "pinhead oatmeal". It is often pre-soaked overnight.
- Rolled oat porridge is common in England and North America. It is known as simply "porridge" or, more commonly in the United States and often in Canada, "oatmeal".
- Groats, a porridge made from unprocessed oats or wheat.
- Pease porridge or peasemeal porridge, made from dried peas, is a traditional English and Scottish porridge.
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Oatmeal Porridge Tested Recipe, www.joyofbaking.com
Porridge: the king of superfoods, www.telegraph.co.uk
Perfect porridge, www.bbcgoodfood.com