As the quintessential irish rogue, oscar wilde, once said, "only dull people are brilliant at breakfast." for that reason, we like to soak our sultanas (also known as golden raisins) in a nip of whiskey before adding them to our morning porridge. We find it loosens the tongue and unclouds the minds of our companions and ourselves-we all shine so brightly at night that we do tend toward dullness at daybreak. This steadying bowl of oats is just the thing to fortify one for the day to come.
Yield: Provides 4 portions
¼ cup sultanas, black raisins, or other dried chopped fruit
3 tablespoons good quality Irish whiskey, plus additional if desired
1 cup steel cut oats
½ cup diced Bramley apple or other tart apple, such as Macoun or Cortland (about ½ apple)
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup full-flavored honey such as chestnut
¼ cup chopped walnuts, fire-toasted (see Notes)
1. In a small bowl, combine the sultanas and the whiskey. Allow to stand while the fire is built.
2. Prepare a medium-heat fire, with the flames just below the grill grate. Let it burn steadily for 30 minutes. Pour 4 cups of water into a medium skillet and place it on the hottest part of the grill.
3. Bring the liquid just to a boil and slowly stir in the oats. When the mixture is smooth and beginning to thicken, move the skillet to the moderate or low heat level. The essential thing here is to keep the oats at a steady simmer so as to avoid scorching them. Simmer the porridge, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
4. Stir in the apple. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for another 70 minutes. The best way to know when the porridge is ready is to taste it. The oats should be tender and creamy. If they are not to one's liking, add more water, continue to cook, and taste again in 5 minutes time.
5. Swirl in the cream and honey. Sprinkle in the nuts and raisins and swish in additional whiskey, if tempted. Serve piping hot to the first pony out of the gate.
Although nuts can certainly be pretoasted before leaving home, we prefer the smoky flavor afforded by toasting them over the open flame. Simply place the nuts in a small skillet in a single layer. Set the skillet over a moderate heat and toast, tossing occasionally, until they are fragrant and golden, 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the nut variety.