Following the Rude Health Porridge Championships, Beth Flaherty tells us how we all can be inspired.
Last Thursday, Rude Health, the trendy health brand, held their 4th annual Porridge Championships over at Kings Cross. It was a morning made up of tasting some of the UK’s best porridge, alongside unlimited coffee. It was pretty much my idea of heaven and I was lucky enough to attend and try them all.
The competition included 15 entries split across two heats. There were some big names amongst the competitors too, including Lifestyle vlogger, Niomi Smart, and Bill Collison, founder of the restaurant chain Bill’s. They each were given preparation time, plus twenty minutes of cooking time to produce their finest porridge creation. This wasn’t your average ‘two minutes in the microwave’ either. They were works of art, wonders to behold and executions of some crazy flavours. In fact, the winner – congratulations to Covent Garden cafe, Native – used ants! Yes, ANTS. Something to do with the aim of achieving a citrusy flavour using only foraged ingredients, apparently. But there were some more conventional combinations too, such as Cherry Bakewell, Fig and Hazelnut and Cinnamon Baked Apple.
All this seems a world apart from the pretty bog-standard porridge most of us whip up for our breakfasts. But, oats are such a staple for students. They’re cheap, versatile, extremely quick, one bag lasts for what seems like an eternity … I could go on. However, following the Porridge Championships, I came away feeling inspired to do more with them. So, here are some tips to make your porridge extra-special – maybe even worthy of the Championships next year?
1.Spice it up – Nearly every entry in the championships used warming spices to up the flavour of their porridge. You can’t go too far wrong by adding ground spices, such as cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. They’re a simple, cheap and tasty way of totally transforming your morning bowl.
2. Pair with yoghurt – I know, why would you want to add cold yoghurt to a warming bowl of porridge? But this is exactly what the Bill’s founder did with his entry, showing that it is a genius combination. Rather than dolloping on top, allowing it to melt and mix in with the oats, take a spoonful of porridge, then dip into a pot of yoghurt. It may seem ridiculous, but trust me, you’ve got to try it.
3. Switch to savoury – Contrary to convention nowadays, porridge does not always have to be sweet. Traditionally, the ‘Porridge Wogs’ north of the border, would add a generous amount of salt in the process. But, that’s not the only way. Ottolenghi’s Miso Porridge was highly commended by the judges, proving savoury can be delicious. But to start gently, why not stir in some mashed sweet potato, or try adding turmeric
4. Top it off – A bowl of porridge is not complete without toppings. But, we can do much better than just a sad sliced banana. Nuts, seeds and dried fruits are obvious go-to’s, but how about a dollop of peanut butter, too, or a sprinkle of granola? If you feel like that little bit extra, then berry compotes are a real winner. Just heat mixed berries with some water and a drizzle of honey (or if you’re feeling super-lazy, microwave a handful frozen berries for about twenty seconds).
5. Keep it seasonal – There was a strong autumnal theme running through the championship porridges. Sourcing local and seasonal fruit can not only be used as inspiration for flavours, but makes it cheaper and more environmentally-friendly too. Apples, cranberries and pears are all in season right now, and make great additions to porridge. Though, if you’re feeling as creative as Maple & Fitz, use the in-season pumpkin instead of a bowl. Less washing up, I suppose.
Images: Pixabay and @rudehealth