It was -26 here this morning, probably the coldest night of this very cold winter. To get going on mornings like this, you need hearty sustenance, you need fuel. Our favorite simple winter breakfast this year is this three-grain mush flavored with dried apples and toasted hickory nuts (and of course some excellent local milk, and a splash of our maple syrup). We prepare it on the woodstove the night before, making a batch to last a couple of days. In the morning I put a portion for two in a small saucepan, add some water and a pinch of salt, snip in some dried apples, and let it warm while we fix tea.
What I love about this porridge is that it's not just mush--it has bite, a satisfying chew, because the rye and wheat berries never totally succumb, no matter how long you cook them. They have a natural sweetness, as well, and the apples add more subtle sweetness, along with tartness and yet another texture. And then the hickory nuts, toasty, rich, lightly crunchy.
I think I'm ready for another bowl....
|Steel-cut oats lower left, wheat berries right, rye berries top, hickory nuts, dried apple.|
For four ample servings I used:
1/2 cup wheat berries
1/4 cup rye berries
3 cups water
Bring that to a boil and let it simmer a good long while, at least an hour, I'd say. Check every 15 minutes or so to make sure all the water hasn't cooked away. When the berries are yielding but still quite al dente, you can add the oats.
1/3 cup steel-cut oats
2/3 cup water
Add the oats and water right into the wheat and rye berries. Cover and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, then remove from the heat and set aside.
In the morning reheat the porridge with a little added water and a couple pinches of salt, and snip in dried apple or other dried fruit--or, as mentioned above, spoon your desired portions into a small saucepan, and do likewise. When it's hot, dish it up, add milk, maple, top with toasted nuts. We are in love with the local hickory nuts we found at the little market in Ridgeland, but walnuts or pecans, toasted pumpkin seeds, what have you, all would add that nice contrasting crunch.
This is the kind of cold weather breakfast that could almost make you wish winter would never end.
Text and photos copyright 2014 by Brett Laidlaw