Think oats are just for breakfast? Think again! Savoury oats were a hot topic among aficionados at the 22nd annual Golden Spurtle World Porridge Championships, held in Carrbridge, Scotland, earlier this month.
Porridge guru and previous Golden Spurtle Champion, Anna-Louise Batchelor (aka Porridge Lady) whipped up a fabulous seasonal Autumn Foraged Porridge, using Mornflake Gluten Free Pinhead Oatmeal, with both Sea Spaghetti and Carrageen Seaweed varieties, garnished with wild mushrooms and infused with Miso.
Commenting on the savoury trend, Golden Spurtle Co-ordinator, Margarete Paschke, said: "For the Specialty Category there were more savoury dishes this year than ever before.
"Previous Golden Spurtle Winner, Izhar Khan, produced a Haute Haleem dish, which was one of those hotly debated among judges. Viola Adamsson of Sweden created an Oat based salad dish which food Critic, Ron McKenna, suggested was of Michelin star standard.
"Historically savoury never wins, however Chris Young's Winning Wild Mushroom Oatmeal Risotto dish changed the standard last year and that has definitely been reflected in the influx of savoury dishes this year".
High protein, low GI and packed with cholesterol-busting beta glucan soluble fibre, oats are as healthy as they are tasty, making an ideal base for savoury dishes for those who want the benefits of oats minus the sweet fix.
Catherine Sadler, from Mornflake, said: "We've traditionally enjoyed oats with sweet toppings such as fruit, brown sugar or maple syrup, but,savoury porridge is finding its way onto our dinner plates as a delicious alternative to rice, pasta and couscous.
"The neutral taste of oats makes a perfect canvas for savoury ingredients with endless possibilities for everyone, as well as those on a Gluten Free diet, looking for more variety.
"Coarse (or Pinhead) Oatmeal particularly lends itself to savoury dishes, as the grains are simply cut into three rather than being rolled into flakes, making a wonderfully wholesome, rice-like texture".
The title of World Porridge Making Champion is awarded to the competitor who makes the best traditional porridge using just oatmeal, salt and water. Contestants are also encouraged to enter the 'Speciality' competition, where oatmeal must be the main ingredient in any sweet or savoury porridge-based dish.
Competitors were closely watched by four judges: Neil Mugg, Head Pastry Chef at The Gleneagles Hotel, Masterchef, Colin Bussey, who has 34 years' experience in the food industry including at The Savoy and Gleneagles, and guest judges, Ron MacKenna, restaurant critic at 'The Herald', and Jonathan Engels of Crossbill Gin whose Aviemore gin distillery and bar won Channel 4's 'Amazing Spaces' 2015 'Shed of the Year' and most recently European Craft Gin 2015.
The event is organised by Carrbridge Community Council and sponsored by Hamlyns of Scotland.
The Porridge Lady's Foraged Porridge