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Papa's Porridge

My grandchildren all remember quite well the steel-cut oats I ate for breakfast nearly every day. I started with a simpler recipe, but after several years of experimentation I've settled on this slightly more elaborate version as my standard breakfast porridge.

I am not intimidated by porridge snobs who insist that it must not be cooked in a microwave oven, or that milk is not an appropriate cooking liquid -- and neither should you be.

Yield: 1 serving

Cooking time: 16 minutes

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Category: Cereals

Source: James Card



Weigh the oats into a microwave-safe cereal bowl (about 20 ounces capacity). You can leave the bowl on the scale and "zero" it before adding each new ingedient.

Carefully sprinkle in a "pinch" of clove. The spice should lightly dust an area about the size of a dime.

Carefully sprinkle in a slightly larger amount of nutmeg.

Generously sprinkle cinnamon in, about 10 times as much as the nutmeg.

Stir to evenly mix the dry ingredients.

Add the cranberries.

Pour the milk slowly into the bowl; the scale is slow to catch up with what you've added. I usually stop pouring when I see about 140 or so and wait to see where the scale stops -- usually close to 150.

Place the bowl in the center of the microwave oven. It does not need to be covered, but if you fear that it may boil over you may want to put a plate under it to make clean-up easier.

Just like when you cook grains on the stovetop, the goal is to bring the oats to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for the remaining cooking time. This usually requires about a minute at full power and then about 15-20 minutes at a lower power setting.

In my microwave: 66 seconds on high, then 14:44 at 20% power (power level "2").

Kaylee's microwave: 66 seconds, then set power to "3" for 14:44.

The little microwave at the office: 90 seconds at high power, then 15 minutes at low power.


This should result in a quite thick porridge; I prefer something that I actually have to chew a bit. The porridge should not jiggle if you shake the bowl vigorously from side to side. If you think that oats should be smooth and creamy add more liquid and cook a bit longer.

 A bowl of porridge with cranberries after cooking.
A bowl of porridge with cranberries after cooking.

I normally add about a teaspoon full of sugar and enough milk to just cover the porridge, at the table. Other choices for toppings might be: butter and brown sugar; a small scoop of ice cream; maple syrup; yogurt; peanut butter (ugh!).

 Porridge ready to eat.
Porridge ready to eat.


BIG OATS -- sometimes I want a larger serving:

99 seconds at full power, then 17:77 at 20% power; spices increased slightly

If I have some bulgur I may subsitute that for half of the steel-cut oats, or swap flaked wheat for the rolled oats. I'll still have a total of 50 grams of grain (or 75 grams for the larger serving of BIG OATS), no matter which mixture I use.

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