Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mahnomin Porridge

At the table in the kitchen, there were three bowls of porridge. Goldilocks was hungry. She tasted the porridge from the first bowl.

"This porridge is too hot!" she exclaimed.

So, she tasted the porridge from the second bowl.

"This porridge is too cold," she said

So, she tasted the last bowl of porridge.

"Ahhh, this porridge is just right," she said happily and she ate it all up.

***From "Goldilocks and the Three Bears"

I always found this story disturbing, especially the part about her sleeping in their beds. That's downright creepy. I bet she rifled through their underwear drawers also. However, her greatest atrocity came when she ate their breakfast. Eating another man's (or bear's) breakfast just ain't civil.

This story first introduced me to porridge. I had no idea what it was, but I thought it was similar to oatmeal. It turns out I was right. According to wikipedia, porridge is a simple dish made by boiling oats and sometimes a mixture of other grains in milk or water. I also learned the following interesting facts about porridge
  1. In parts of Asia porridge is fed to horses and donkeys (This fact just makes me smile. "Honey, I'm going out to the barn to feed the donkeys their porridge.").
  2. Gruel is a form of porridge, but it's usually a thinner consistency, so that people can drink it (I might make some gruel for my daughter because I think it would be fun to scream, "Drink your gruel, or you'll get no dessert!).
  3. Every October Scotland hosts the World Porridge Making Championships, where contestants battle for the Golden Spurtle Trophy. A spurtle is a special spoon used to stir porridge. For you curious souls, here's a picture of spurtle (I won't comment on the phallic nature of it. I'd be embarrassed to whip this out of my kitchen drawer):
  4. Many cultures use porridge to nurse the sick back to health.
When I read on about the Mahnomin Porridge served at Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis, I thought it sounded interesting, but something I'd never try. For the record, I've never craved porridge. I've never been fan of hot breakfast cereals like oatmeal, mush, or grits. However, I think some of it has to do with its unappealing name. I think the name porridge turns most people off to the dish. In fact, very few people ordered it when it first appeared on Hell's Kitchen's menu. Then they started giving it away, but people still balked at trying it. Eventually, people tried the dish, realized it was heavenly, and now it's a popular menu item.

Last week I had the privilege of eating at Hell's Kitchen, and I was still reluctant to try it. However, the snowy weather and my lumberjack attitude prompted me to give the porridge a try, and when I tried the first bite I was a porridge convert. At that moment I wanted to be porridge's new PR man, spreading the gospel of this great dish. So here I am blogging about it.

Like most restaurant dishes that bring a glint to my eye, I'm always inspired to replicate the dish at home. This drives my wife nuts. She doesn't understand why I would go to all the trouble. She doesn't understand why I just can't enjoy the dish at the restaurant, where it's something special, a treat. Now my wife is partially right. For some reason she's always right and I'm wrong. This is the gospel truth. However, believing that I'm right, I usually respond with a two-pronged response:

  1. I could make this dish for a fraction of what they're charging me at the restaurant.
  2. What if someday we live somewhere like Moscow, Kansas, where there's not a wide range of restaurants.? Wouldn't it be nice to have a husband, who can prepare a huge repertoire of dishes?
In which she responds:

  1. We'll never live in Moscow, Kansas.
  2. We can afford to occasionally eat a meal at a restaurant. There's nothing wrong with occasionally treating ourselves.
She's probably right, but I still insist on replicating recipes I encounter on restaurant menus.

This morning I made the Mahnomin Porridge.

Mahnomin Porridge

(Photo from


4 cups cooked wild rice

¼ cup pure maple syrup

¼ cup dried blueberries

¼ cup craisins

½ cup roasted, cracked hazelnuts

1 cup heavy cream


  1. In a heavy non-stick sautee pan, add the cooked wild rice, heavy cream, and maple syrup, and warm through.
  2. Add the blueberries, craisins, and hazelnuts, and stir to mix well.
  3. Serve in a bowl with sides of warm heavy cream and maple syrup.
Now my attempt at Mahnomin Porridge wasn't quite as good as Hell's Kitchen, but it still was pretty darn good. I think, there are three things I could do to improve the porridge:

  1. I used half and half, and using heavy cream would improve my porridge.
  2. I could toast my hazlenuts in a skillet. I stepped this step, so I could stuff my face. Toasting or roasting nuts would definitely give the nuts a more pronounced flavor.
  3. I could use a better quality maple syrup. I don't really know anything about maple syrup, so I just grabbed the cheapest bottle, a $3.50 bottle of Maple Grove Farms: U.S. grade A Dark Amber. I've been cooking long enough to know that sometimes the quality of ingredients does matter, so I'll research maple syrups and find a better one to use with this recipe. This might be the most important thing I could do to improve the recipe.
I also think you could experiment with the ingredients a bit. Pecans would work in place of hazlenuts. If you don't have wild rice, you could probably use a white rice. Also, you could add a little cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla to change the flavor of this recipe. Overall, I'm happy with my results, and I look forward to enjoying this porridge on a cold, snowy, day.

Happy eating,

1 comment:

Kristin said...

This is one dish I'm happy for you to replicate at home. It is SO yummy! I also think this dish is like soup/stew in that letting it set overnight and reheating gives the flavors time to develop.