I’m just back from the great city of Portland, OR (thanks Bob and the Bob’s Red Mill crew) where I was honored to judge, along with Leather Storrs, chef at Noble Rot in Portland and winner of this season’s Food Network’s “Extreme Chef;” and Rachel MacRitchie, Scottish native and honorary president of the Daughters of the British Empire, the Spar for the Spurtle Ultimate Oatmeal Throwdown.
Matthew Cox, The 2009 World Porridge Making Champion and Golden Spurtle Winner, animated the event, which will send the winner to compete in Scotland later this year.
It was a tough decision among the 3 finalists. Jim Schafer, from Wisconsin, had already made almond milk and churned his own butter for his Nutty Coconut Oatmeal by the time the judges arrived. Portland resident, Rachel Kimbrow, wowed us with her gorgeous silky custard and a gingerbread-flavored oatmeal. In the end, Merry Graham, of California, won us over with crisp black bean porridge patties. I know…I know…oatmeal patties? I thought the same thing, but once we tasted them, we loved the Southwestern flavors and crisp coating as well as the surprising take on “oatmeal porridge.”
Black Bean Porridge Patties with Black Bean Pico de Gallo
2/3 cup Bob’s Red Mill Award Winning Steel Cut Oats
1 2/3 cups water
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinse, drained, divided
1 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/3 cup minced cilantro for patties, 1/2 cup chopped cilantro for pico
3/4 teaspoon Bob’s Red Mill Baking Powder
1/3 cup Bob’s Red Mill Oat Flour, additional for forming patties
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1 ½ chopped fresh tomatoes
2 green onions, chopped, additional for garnish
1/2 cup picante salsa, medium or mild if preferred
2/3 cup Greek yogurt
1. In a 4-cup bowl, combine Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats and 1 2/3 cups water, stir and set aside for three hours. Do not drain water after oaks have soaked. *Alternative non-soak method listed below.
2. Pour softened oats and soaking water in a 4-quart or larger saucepan, combine, garlic, water, and salt, cover, and cook on high or medium-high for 9 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times. Uncover, add 1-cup black beans, cumin, and red pepper, stir constantly and cook 4-minutes.
3. Pour hot porridge into a large bowl and stir in 1/3-cup cilantro and then add baking powder, stir, add all but about 2-tablespoons of the oat flour until uniform in consistency. Sprinkle a work surface with about 1-tablespoon of remaining oat flour. Form 4 patties by scooping 1/2-cup oat mixture. Sprinkle each mound with about 1-tablespoon of oat flour; press down with the back of a metal spatula and shape with hands. Use additional oat flour if needed.
4. In a large non-stick skillet, heat grapeseed oil on high. Fry patties on both sides 5 minutes, adjusting heat between high and medium-high, until patties are brown and crispy. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl toss together remaining black beans, 1/2-cup cilantro, tomatoes, green onions, and picante salsa.
5. Place Black Bean Porridge Patties on a large serving patter or on individual salad plates. Top patties with Black Bean Pico de Gallo and dollop with Greek yogurt. Sprinkle with cilantro and green onions. Serves 4
Winning Recipe by Merry Graham, COURTESY OF BOB’S RED MILL
* Alternative non-soak method: Combine oats with 2 2/3 cups water in a 4-quart saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cover, adjust heat to medium and cook for 14 minutes or until water has almost completely absorbed into oats. Uncover, and add black beans, cumin and red pepper, stir constantly and cook 4-minutes. Continue instructions as listed above.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO COOK OATMEAL?
Sara Foster’s new cookbook, SARA FOSTER’S SOUTHERN KITCHEN (Random House), is spectacular, and “absolutely stunning,” according to Ina Garten (aka The Barefoot Contessa). Sara cooks whatever inspires her from the farmers’ markets in the Durham-Chapel Hill area where she has owned and operated the beloved Foster’s Markets for over 20 years. In her fourth and most personal cookbook, with a foreword by Lee Smith, Sara gives us a slice of Southern heaven–squash-laced hush puppies, Carolina shrimp chowder–but always with her own twist and respect to what’s seasonal and fresh. There are also classics, welcome any time of year, including her Granny Foster’s Sunday Fried Chicken.
I was recently in North Carolina visiting with Sara, and some of our friends, including authors Frances Mayes and Lee Smith. Sara and I worked together for years at Cottage Living magazine and we always seem to spend time testing recipes, tasting new things, and dreaming up the next dish we’re going to cook.
We spent an afternoon first buying free-range, organic chickens at the Durham market and frying up some crisp bird before heading to see Bill Smith over at Crook’s Corner for some fried softshell crabs and garlicky carrot slaw. Bill had just returned from winning the James Beard Award; Crook’s Corner was honored as an American Classic. Also, in the neighborhood, is the delightful chef, Andrea Reusing of Lantern Restaurant. We’ll cook from her brand new cookbook, COOKING IN THE MOMENT, next…
Bill had arrived the evening before and, just off the plane, freshly-churned some honeysuckle sorbet; it’s divine, pure summer on a spoon. He knows that if I’m in town and it’s honeysuckle season, I’ll be begging for this gorgeous floral ice. Here’s a video from last summer. If you can’t make it to Crook’s in Chapel Hill, you’ll find the recipe in his book, SEASONED IN THE SOUTH (Algonquin Books).
Back to fried chicken. It’s easier than you think. You just need to know a few basic things:
-The vessel. Every Southerner knows that a skillet is the way to go. If you don’t have one passed down from a family member, start your own tradition. They’re great for frying chicken, of course, as well as baking cornbread and stewing greens, all wonderful accompaniments.
-The chicken. A Free-range, preferably organic chicken from your local farmer or market.
-To brine or not to brine. Here, we have two options. If you have time, make a salt brine with Sara’s recipe, or just soak in buttermilk with a few seasonings for about 30 minutes.
-The temperature. If you don’t have a thermometer, test the oil by tossing in a bit of flour. It should sizzle but not burn. Keep the frying temp to between 350 to 375 degrees F.
-A table of hungry (and soon-to-be-happy) friends.