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It’s almost Winter, which means it’s almost porridge time, when the golden warmth of a porridge bowl can get me through the cold London starts and keep me full. Of course, porridge must be authentic, instant porridge oats don’t count, and patience is a virtue!
Last week I attended the Rude Health Porridge Championships 2016 at Waitrose Cookery School in Kings Cross where chefs were tasked with creating an innovative porridge which was tasty, creamy and beautifully presented. There were no limitations on ingredients or cooking methods, and dishes could be sweet, savoury, salty, spiced, stealthily healthily, drop dead indulgent or just plain traditional! The competition was judged by Rude Health co-founder, Nick Barnard and Food Writer, Signe Johansen.
Competitors included: Bills, Native, 26 Grains, NOPI (Carl White), Maple and Fitz, POCO (Tom Hunt), Ludenwic Café, Farm Girl Café, Fig & Sparrow, Friska, Modern Baker, About Time Magazine (Alicia Grimshaw), Michel Roux Junior Cookery School, Jamu Kitchen (Tanita De Ruijt), Punch Foods, Rock My Bowl.
I had no idea that porridge could be so diverse and competitive. Porridge bowls with an array of quirky toppings and flavours were presented before the judges (and audience). As an increasingly loyal foodie, my mouth was watering and couldn’t wait to try and recreate a few of porridge recipes myself.
The winning Meadowsweet porridge bowl by Eat Native came with a high protein surprise – Kentish Wood Ants. I tried the ants for myself, which was my first-ever insect eating experience – I wouldn’t personally describe them as delicious, but they were certainly very zingy and crunchy, ensuring it was no ordinary bowl of porridge. Ants aside, the dish was hearty and beautifully presented (check out the full Eat Native porridge recipe below).
I’m looking forward to next year’s competition, and in the meantime, I will be making myself lots of Rude Health porridge, their Organic Sprouted Porridge Oats are a must-have for porridge lovers!
CRAB APPLE COMPOTE
1. Add the milk and cream to a pan with the meadowsweet and the vanilla pod with the seeds scraped out. Bring to a simmer and then allow to infuse for 2 or so hours
2. Toast in a hot pan, moving around every now and again to prevent burning. Take off the heat when they turn a nice golden brown colour
3. Make the porridge to your liking with the Meadowsweet liquid, then finish by stirring the seeds and nuts through porridge.
4. Wash the crab apples and put into a pot with the sugar and water. Boil, then simmer till the apples have broken down. Strain away the excess liquid, then pass the apples through a sieve, adding more liquid if too dry.
5. Simmer the water, sugar and fennel seeds to 116c into a light caramel. Lay the hazelnuts out on a tray and pour the hot sugar mixture over the nuts. Leave to cool, break into pieces)
6. Plate up your porridge mixture and garnish with the praline, compote, fennel leaves and optional ants.
*DISCLAIMER* You can swap in lemon zest to replace the ants