Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Greatest Hits: Mahnomin Porridge

My first album I ever purchased was Shaun Cassidy's Da Doo Ron Ron. My first cassette purchased was Queen's Greatest Hits. My first CD was The Ramones' Greatest Hits. Since I seem to be a fan of greatest hits compilations and since some of my earliest posts wallowed in obscurity, I thought I would periodically feature some of my favorite posts in a segment called Greatest Hits. Today I serve up a piping hot bowl of 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 roadfood.com 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 roadfood.com)


  • 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,


Rechelle said...

Well - I love hot cereal - actually I love oatmeal - real oatmeal not that crap in a foil lined bag and I love cream of wheat and I guess I won't turn down a bowl of chocolate malt o meal either. But I cant stand craisins. Ick.

rebel said...

That looks incredible. I've never had porridge to my knowledge. I like oatmeal and I love grits but I don't care for malt 'o meal or cream of wheat. I'll probably give it a try. Now, did you say this is like the Hell's Kitchen porridge?
I was wanderin' are you from Lawrence? That's what I kinda thought about the comment you left me. I commented back to you but then I thought You'd probably sooner see it on your site. I really like the town of Lawrence and I know MO and KS have quite the history there. I can't wait to read what you'll write about it. You have a great way with words.

muddywaters said...

Rechelle: I feel the same way about raisins. Raisins have ruined many good cookies and servings of bread pudding. However, I'll eat them to be polite.

Rebel: You should give this a try. It's perfect when the temps creep below freezing.

I do live in Lawrence, and I plan on writing more about the local history. You do a great job of capturing the history of the Ozarks, and it's inspired me to do more with my local history. We have a rich history that is often overlooked.

Thanks for your comments.

Kate said...

I'm glad you reposted that, it was a great post! I laughed about the recreating restaurant dishes conversation, because I have definitely had that conversation before. The porridge looks great! I make something similar with quinoa that's pretty good.

Maggie said...

Great looking porridge, I have to see what I can do to make it good dairy-free (or sneak some heavy cream in the house just for myself).

I was always a fan of Cream of Wheat and the other creamy gruel-like hot cereals. Since Cream of Wheat is fairly highly processed I get my fix with Bob's Red Mill High Fiber Hot Cereal. It's great sweet or savory.

Anonymous said...

I've had Hell's Kitchen's Mahnomin Porridge - it is "to die for". I'm so glad that I found the recipe, $7 for a bowl is pretty steep - but well worth it. Now to find the Toasted Sausage Bread recipe...

Gretchen said...

I also have had Hell's Kitchen's Mahnomin Porridge, and the $7 is WELL worth it. This stuff is to die for. I'm glad you posted the recipe here, though. I would LOVE to try making it on my own!

Anonymous said...

Last Saturday-Hell's Kitchen-I shared a bowl of THE Porridge with a college beau whom I hadn't seen in 20 years. It truly was Just Right. Hoping you didn't omit any secret ingredients from your recipe, as I'm counting on my homemade KC version to produce the same dreamy results This Saturday. Wish me luck, or feel free to recommend a good porridge caterer.~Goldilocks

Tavia said...

So glad you posted the recipe. I went to Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis over Labor Day and loved the porridge. Need to try making it at home!

Susan Kagan said...

The cost of such items as craisins, dried blueberries, hazelnuts, and wild rice make Mahnomin Porridge in today's economy a dish only for the very wealthy--or very self-indulgent.
Susan Kagan

Anonymous said...

H's Kitchen's porridge came to mind this morning and I though how nice it would be to enjoy some. Heading to a local market, I thought I'd go prepared with an ingredient list, so I hopped online to see if I could find a recipe. Haven't had any in several years, and while we don't live in Moscow, KS, we do live 1000 miles away from Minneapolis. Thanks for posting the recipe and your thoughts. It was the first thing on the menu I tried! Being a lover of hot cereal, the ingredient list intrigued me greatly and I wasn't disappointed the first, second, or third time I ordered it. Cheers!

danicat said...

I, too love this porridge. I went there for lunch this last time in the middle of a hot summer day, so I bought the take home kit. It made way more than the 4 servings it said, so was pretty worth the money. I am hoping to find a good quality wild rice to make my own!

danicat said...

I, too love this porridge! I had it several years ago when there on vacation. We were back, but this time over lunch on a hot summer day, so I took home the DIY box. Made way more than 4 servings, so it was worth the money. I look forward to finding a good quality wild rice to make my own. BTW, Trader Joe's has an inexpensive pretty good maple syrup.