How Long Do You Need To Cook Old Fashioned Oats How to Make and Eat Porridge the Scottish Way

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How to Make and Eat Porridge the Scottish Way

There are many traditions to porridge-making and porridge-eating in Scotland, and some of them may seem quite ridiculous to a foreigner, or someone from England.

As an example it must always be stirred when cooking with the right hand, clockwise. The stirring is done with a straight wooden stick, like a wooden spoon with the spoon cut off, known in various parts of Scotland as a spurtle or a theevil.

Porridge is always spoken of as ‘they’, and an old custom demands that ‘they’ are eaten standing up.

It is usually made with oatmeal, but in Caithness, Orkney and Shetland bere-meal (a kind of barley) is often used.

Porridge has various names in different parts of the country: Gaelic brochan in the Highlands; milgruel (Shetland) and tartan-purry is thin porridge made with the liquor in which kail has been cooked.

Traditionally porridge was eaten from a birch-wood bowl with a horn spoon. It is served with cold milk or cream, sugar or, more often, salt; and as with all foods, the fresher and better the oatmeal, the better the porridge. Many Scotsmen like a glass of porter, stout or beer with it.

The following recipe should be used to make a traditional porridge, and is based on the needs of one person only, but it will make a large portion.

For this you will need 1 &1/4 ounces of medium oatmeal, roughly a quarter of a cup., plus one cup of water and a pinch of salt.

Firstly boil the water in a saucepan, and when it is bubbling add the oatmeal in a constant stream with the left hand stirring all the time with the right. When it is all boiling regularly, pull to the side of the heat, cover and simmer very gently for 10 minutes, then add the salt and stir. Cover again, and simmer very gently for about another 10 minutes; the time cannot be more precise as the quality of the oats varies in cooking time.

Serve piping hot in cold soup plates, and dip each spoonful into individual bowls of cold milk or cream before eating. This is the method which has been used for centuries. Porridge can also be made in a double boiler, which prevents any fear of burning.

Porridge served in Scotland is much thinner than in Ireland or England, and much the better for it. Also the large flake oatmeal used in other countries is nothing like so good as the medium-size variety in Scotland.

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