My recipe for perfect porridge (and tight buttocks)

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Warning: unsubstantiated claims follow

Creamy porridge
1 measure of cheap rolled oats
1 measure milk
1 measure and a bit more water
A substantial pinch of salt

Cook slowly, for an hour or so. Serve with drizzled honey and milk

There is one secret I want to share with you. It’s the reason I’m not the size of Falstaff – or if you are into serial TV rather than theatre in the round – Hurley from Lost.

It’s the reason, aside from years of hard-core military style yoga, impersonal training and even a long weekend spent with the SAS, that I have buttocks tight enough to crack a walnut, ankles shapely enough to sport Manolo Blahnicks and a potted belly that only measures 38 inches in circumference.

It’s the reason that despite having spent nearly 20 years at restaurant tables accumulating unfortunate stains on my trousers, and ruining enough Hermès ties to pay for Matt Preston’s entire dressing-up box ensemble of cravats, that I can survive a surfeit of lampreys and have not suffered cardiac arrest.

Here it is: I do not eat modern, healthy slimming breakfast cereals. I would rather shred the box of a modern cereal and eat that that its contents, which I can only assume have been swept from the bottom of a hamster cage, dyed pink and encrusted with sugar.

My secret is porridge. It is my winter alternative to my summer diet of various permutations of fruit, plain yoghurt, honey and nuts.

Don’t waste your money on easy or quick oats that take only 150 seconds to cook. The same goes for brands, such as Uncle Tobys’ where you will be paying for the sponsorship of some gorgeous, broad-shouldered Aryan who has Olympian ambitions (and would rather be eating that most nationalistic of snacks, the ANZAC biscuit).

I buy the cheapest home brand rolled oats. And I cook them slowly, which is the key.

Get up early and get them going – boiling – on the stove top. Then place in a preheated oven at 90C or so.

Feed the dog. Try to avoid leaving the house in track suit pants or bright white trainers. Walk the aforementioned dog for an hour or so enjoying the morning light playing on Port Phillip Bay (or Sydney Harbour).

Return home, and serve with more milk and brown sugar – palm sugar or honey if it pleases you – and watch the inches fall away.

20 Comments

  1. @Matt..

    If you ask me the best way to clean saucepans of any type that have something stuck to them like porridge is to fill them with water and bring the water to a boil, add a small amount of detergent, then let it sit for 2-3 hours. It’ll come right off without any effort.

  2. Brilliant post!
    I feel like we share something in common. I love oats. I soak my thrifty Coles brand oats each night, heat them up in the morning, chop up my prunes, raspberries and dried apricots and throw them on the top. Yum yum. I look forward to it every morning!
    I laugh at people who eat ‘diet’ ‘99% fat free’ or ‘More fibre’ cereal Mwahahaha:)
    I should take orange juice soaked oats to work tomorrow:)

  3. Now that you’ve hooked a whole generation of hipsters on porridge, how about some tips to clean saucepans…it’s a PITA! :p

  4. I could have sworn I already replied to comments here – maybe my browser crashed – yet again.

    Vida, you have to enjoy yourself don’t you even if it means porridge for breakfast rather than chocolate cake.

    Injera/Reemski, the rice cooker is a brilliant idea. I guess a slow cooker would also work although you’d need to ensure it doesn’t dry out.

    Jess, ’tis like rocket fuel. I’m trying to ween myself off the sugar though so I can climb even higher up the hog.

    Will, sounds like a great idea. I may try adding nuts and fruit just in case I get malnutrition from a diet of pure oats.

    Hannah, good idea. I quite like prunes asides from their obvious benefits. Maybe soaked in eau de vie for an extra decadent breakfast.

    Sticki, served with ham? Gosh. Maybe it is my genes but porridge certainly helps.

    Neil/Talia, I’ll perhaps try those as a change to my Black & Gold.

    Jane, this is about the only true thing on this blog. How dare you defame my buttocks. When – if you ever make it – to Sunday lunch I shall cook in budgie smugglers to prove it.

  5. I am surprised no one has yet mentioned your ‘tight buttocks’ Ed, I guess in the world of blogging you can get away with such claims. But readers I have seen him in the flesh (well, not in the nude mercy), many times over many years, and ‘buns of steel’ they ain’t. Sorry Ed, someone had to put the record straight.

  6. Hi talia, happy to help, got mine from Carlisle Health Foods, 238 Carlisle St, Balaclava (03 9534 6588), here in Melbourne. Not quite at the Aldi price, these were $5.90/kg. If you know where to get farro, I’d be pleased to know, wanting to have a crack at that MasterChef minestrone that knocked out Poh, I would have guessed barley too.

  7. Neil, I’ve been looking for steel-cut oats for ages! Where exactly did you get them from? Also, has anyone seen them online?

    Re. porridge, I make mine slowly with half water / half soy milk, and add some shredded coconut and chopped dates as it cooks.

  8. We’ve just got onto steel cut oats from the health food shop in Carlisle St. They’re the whole oat grain just cracked into pieces, just like cracked wheat for tabouli, only coarser. They make a creamy porridge just like rolled oats, but also have a better texture and a pleasant nutty flavour. Will try a suggested spoon of peanut butter in it next time.

  9. Yum – that looks like the perfect breakfas for a cold winter morning in Melbourne! Will try this weekend.

  10. I’ll be doing the congee-rice cooker-version tomorrow. My Chinese Grandfather believed that oats cooked that way – or cream of wheat – served with ham was the perfect antidote to colds.

    Ed, I think your genes have a lot to do with the shape of your physique too.

  11. You can go a whole day on a bowl of porridge. I prefer mine made with water and usually topped with fruit and yoghurt. Prunes are really good with porridge and will keep you regular, as my old Mum used to say.

  12. Good ideas Ed. My normal oats/porridge for breakfast is just home brand rolled oats cooked slowly with water only. With milk added just before serving.

    Then it’s chopped up dried fruits (anything from apricots, sultanas etc) together with crushed nuts (including walnuts, peanuts, cashews, almonds… basically whatever I can find around the house and sometimes add some gently crushed linseed). The nuts are pre-crushed from home-roasted raw nuts brought from either a nutshop or from the supermarket (whatever’s cheaper) placed in a container, and the dried fruits are whatever is cheap from the supermarkets. The dried fruits like apricots are chopped up using just regular “kitchen” scissors and also placed in a container.

    These containers are usually either old peanut butter or vegemite containers.

    The dried fruits are good because they add a bit of natural fruity “sweetness”. The nuts are good (unless you have a nut allergy) as they provide a little protein for the morning. I don’t add too much of either.

  13. It’s oats for winter in our house too. Even the dog gets a little porridge with banana.
    We actually have been using the Aldi ones for the last 12 months and they are 99 cents for 750gm. They don’t take long to cook at all.
    No fat, filling and warm….as you said so much better than processed, fad breakfast cereal.

  14. @ Injera I want a rice cooker like that!

  15. Like rocket fuel, keeps one going ’til lunchtime with an injection of caffeine. I do use Ideal/Carnation milk w brown sugar to give that fudgy taste.

  16. @Reemski – my rice cooker does have a “porridge” setting, which works for congee and oats. Part of the reason I love it so intensely!

    Actually, I’m oats all year ’round. In warmer months, a bowl of oats, soaked in some fruit juice in the fridge overnight, with some dried fruit or whatever’s around = amazing breakfast.

  17. I put my cheap-ass oats in a screw top container with the right amount of milk. That get stuck in the fridge next to my packed lunch for the next day. When I get to work I microwave it to the point that it boils and is heated through. The lid goes back on and I leave it for about 15 minutes while I check that all the money in the world has left our bank and come back several times over for a net gain of tuppence ha’penny.

    Once I have cooled down from my ride into work, I change, make myself a Vietnamese macchiato and enjoy my creamy plump porridge.

    Quicker and arguably as good.

  18. @Injera! Ingenious! Porridge in rice cooker!?? Simply brilliant!

  19. Beautifully written! I can’t believe I was tempted earlier this week to add more to the Grant Hackett retirement fund, just out of sheer oaten laziness. I’ll get back to the Black & Gold, in the rice cooker, on timer. No point in getting up an hour before I have to – no dog to walk (which might explain my glutes. Ah, well).

  20. Hey Ed… this is the best recipe for both breakfast and life I have ever heard!!! V x