3 of a Kind: Sophisticated Spins on Homey, Hearty Porridge
3 of a Kind checks out three places across the country to try something cool, new and delicious.
Porridge may not be top of mind when you think of buzzworthy menu items, but remember when kale was nothing more than a decorative cabbage used for fall festivals? A survey of the country’s most-groundbreaking restaurants reveals chefs are all about Goldilocks’ favorite meal. They’re fashioning seriously elegant savory porridges from heirloom grains topped with everything from truffles to eggs to, yes, kale.
At Little Park, Andrew Carmellini’s gorgeous New American restaurant, an heirloom grain porridge is served at breakfast and brunch, topped with two poached eggs, roasted hen of the woods mushrooms, and pine nuts.
Chef de Cuisine Min Kong sources the grains from New England and explained that the dish evolved as an alternative to oatmeal. “We didn’t want to just go with a regular oatmeal, because it’s expected,” she said. “We thought it was a good opportunity to use a different type of grain.”
“Porridge is another great example of peasant food refined,” said Tony Ferrari, co-owner and co-chef of Hillside Supper Club, a restaurant that pays homage to a rustic style of cooking in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. “I enjoy how hearty this dish is — it has all the ingredients to get you through your day. One bowl and you’re good to go.” At Hillside Supper Club, Ferrari serves his warm porridge with kale, wild mushroom, a soft farm egg and crispy chicken skins.
At Faro, the Bushwick restaurant known for its seasonal cooking and artful pasta, Chef Kevin Adey loves his porridge, which he cooks from milled local grains: wheat berries, corn, oats and emmer. “Cereal grains are so overlooked as only a processed food product. So I wanted to shine a light on them in their purest form,” he said.
The dish changes with the seasons. In spring it’s topped with sweet peas and morels and garnished with pea tendrils. In summer it comes with a tempura squash blossom stuffed with peekytoe crab, topped with zucchini ribbons. And in the fall, the porridge is cooked down with vegetable stock, butter, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, then layered with mushrooms and scallions.