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Generally Recognized As True: Ontario autumn porridge: what to do with the apples coming out of our ears

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ontario autumn porridge: what to do with the apples coming out of our ears

In this part of Ontario at this time of year, we have apples coming out of our ears. Pick--your-own apple farms are in abundance for the month of October, and apples appear everywhere in supermarkets in the month that follows -- 50 cents per pound at my local supermarket for the local varieties.

Apple pie is one of the obvious uses for this extravagance, but there is only so much you can take.

Over the past few days, I've been trying to use apples and their byproducts to come up with a good porridge. Today's was just about right. You could reasonably make this with all-local ingredients, except for the cinnamon.

Here is what you need for 1 serving:
  • half of an Empire apple: Empire apples are good because they fall apart when cooked. You could also use a Mac apple, but it would be more tart.
  • 1/4 cup sweet apple cider: I am talking about the pressed apple cider and not the alcoholic cider
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup uncooked grain cereal: over the past few days, I have used a ground 10-grain cereal made by Bob's Red Mill. Today, I was at the bottom of the bag and mixed 10-grain cereal with Quaker rolled oats (not the quick variety). Essentially, anything that has about a 10-minute cooking time will be OK with this recipe. Something I have not yet tried in this recipe but would probably be great are Oak Manor Farms's Toasted Porridge Oats. They are a farm in SW Ontario but available in the GTA.
  • 1 cinnamon stick: only if you like cinnamon with your apple
  • maple syrup: readily-available local maple syrup is available all over Ontario
First of all, dice half of an Empire apple. You don't need to peel the apple unless peels really bother you. They will soften during cooking and add a nice texture and flavour, I think.

Put the apple cider into a saucepan, bring it to a boil and then add the apple pieces. Simmer (covered) the apple pieces in the cider for 2-3 minutes.

Then, add the water and bring it to a boil. Add the cereal grains and stir briefly to prevent clumping and then reduce to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Stir periodically (every few minutes).

[ Optional (cinnamon): Depending on how cinnamon-y you like your apple to taste (if at all), add the cinnamon stick to the saucepan earlier or later in the cooking process. If you like a strong cinnamon flavour, add the cinnamon stick when you add the oats. If you like a mild flavour, add it about 8 minutes into the 10 minutes simmer time. ]

Once the grains have simmered for 10 minutes, remove from the heat and uncover. Add the maple syrup to taste (for me, this is about 1 tbsp.).

Put it into a bowl, let it cool down a bit and then serve.

I was pretty impressed with this. I think cider is to apples what tomato paste is to tomatoes -- it amplifies the essential flavour.

3 comments:

Richard said...

Similar to the way my wife cooks, but without the cider.

I always prefer to cook my oats (with or without flax) in milk.

I can't see what the problem with alcoholic cider would be (unless the taste is marketedly unsuitable - I don't know because I don't drink), since the alcohol will evaporate off.

mattbg said...

I have had them in milk before, but it seems a bit heavy in the morning to me. Maybe because I use whole milk, not sure...

The difference between non-alcoholic and alcoholic cider is quite stark. Alcoholic cider tastes almost like pop -- it's a very refined and smooth taste and doesn't taste a whole lot like apple. Pretty much the same difference as wine vs. grape juice.

Non-alcoholic cider has a sharp, tangy taste, relatively complex, and tastes very much like an apple. It's cloudy because it contains must.

I think alcoholic cider would leave a bitter taste behind once you take out the alcohol... not sure.

richard said...

I know what sweet cider tastes like, I just assumed the alcoholic version had the added benefit of alcohol.