Why is it that a new year always makes me feel like I need to turn the page and fix my bad habits?
It’s not like I’ve ever managed to stick to any of my New Year’s resolutions for any amount of time, and after 30-cough-cough-cough years on this planet, I’ve learned that change only stick when they come in their own time, and not just because we’ve flipped our calendars to a new page.
I guess that’s why I feel the need to point out that I came up with this recipe late last year, long before the holidays, with the full intention of sharing it then. Trouble was, winter took its sweet time in coming this year and I wasn’t in the mood to talk about porridge… so despite my best intentions, this is turning out to be one of those healthy-eating happy-new-year posts anyways.
And yes, it is healthy… but more importantly, it’s delicious.
I’ve only just recently discovered millet, but I’m head over heels in love with it. It’s mild and nutty and a little bit sweet, and in porridge form it’s soft and pillowy and oh so comforting. I particularly love it this way, topped with slices of bright orange persimmon and a scattering of sugared almonds toasted so dark they’re just short of burnt, and finished with a dusting of cinnamon.
It’s just as good with a simple handful of fresh berries or dried fruits, though, or a simple dusting of spice and a drizzle of heavy cream.
The trick, as I’ve learned, is to toast the millet until it’s fragrant and golden-brown, and then to buzz it briefly in a coffee grinder or food processor until it’s roughly half flour and half whole grains. It may sound time-consuming compared to dumping some hot water over some instant oatmeal, but the process only takes five minutes or so, and it’s well worth it.
And now that the cold weather seems to finally have come to stay for a little while and with persimmon season soon coming to a close, there’s really no better time to make a pot of this perfectly lovely porridge.
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 3 tbsp sugar
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup millet
- ¾ cup water
- ¾ cup milk
- Pinch salt
- ½ cup milk (or 10% cream, if you’re feeling fancy)
- 1 medium-sized Fuyu persimmon, thinly sliced
- Maple syrup, for garnish
- Cinnamon, for garnish
- In a pot of boiling water, blanch the almond slices for 1 minute, then immediately drain.
- Transfer the still-hot almonds to a medium-sized mixing bowl, and toss with sugar and salt until evenly coated. Scoop onto a lightly greased baking sheet and spread out into an even layer.
- Toast the almonds under a hot broiler until dark brown and toasty, stirring every 3-5 minutes to avoid burning, about 10-15 minutes in total. (Keep an eagle eye on them once they start to take on colour - they tend to go from barely browned to carbonized in a matter of seconds!)
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then give the almonds one last vigorous stir to break up any clumps that may have formed. Let cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container until ready to use (or for up to 1 week).
- In a large dry skillet set over medium-high heat, toast the millet until it starts to smell nutty and is lightly browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
- Using a coffee grinder or a small food processor, pulse the millet a few times, until it’s very coarsely ground, about halfway between whole grains and flour.
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the ground millet with water, milk and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, for 15-20 minutes or until soft and creamy. If the mixture looks too thick or you like your porridge to be on the runny side, stir in a little more milk until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Immediately spoon the hot porridge into two serving bowls, dividing evenly. (It’s best not to wait, as the porridge will start to thicken as it cools.) Pour a ¼ cup milk on top of each bowl, then top with persimmon slices and sprinkle with toasted almonds. Finish with a drizzle of maple syrup and a dusting of cinnamon, and enjoy!