Wake and Bake: Barley Porridge

Carrie Vasios

For something with a name that sounds pretty frumpy (or maybe lumpy? porridge!), I really love the stuff. For years, I've eaten oatmeal almost everyday for breakfast, occasionally subbing in a hot mixed grain cereal that I buy from Whole Foods when I have cash to burn. Apparently, a mixture of rye, quinoa, and flaxseed is worth its weight in gold.

"I recently (finally) realized that oats are not my only stomach and wallet-friendly grain."

I recently (finally) realized that oats are not my only stomach and wallet-friendly grain. I could easily make my own hot barley cereal. The trick? Cook your barley the night before. That's right, I'm now a batch barley maker, maybe the only one who isn't using it for beer.

The reason that you don't see barley porridge that often is that barley takes longer— much longer— than oats to cook. Let's look at the numbers. Oats: 2 minutes 30 seconds in the microwave. Barley: 40 minutes on the stove, then 15 minutes in the pot with milk. But if I make a batch of barley on Sunday, I can eat the leftovers as barley porridge for the rest of the week. (Not to mention scattering some in salads, soups, etc.)

Here's what you do: combine the cooked barley (I actually leave it a little more al dente in the first stage, cooking it between 30 and 40 minutes instead of 45) with milk in a pan. Add in brown sugar and cinnamon and cook it over medium heat for about 15 minutes, until the barley has sucked up the milk. At this point it's ready to eat as a sweet barley porridge and the extras are up to you. Personally, I add a mixture of chopped nuts and fresh fruit and, for an extra rich texture, a generous drizzle of heavy cream.