Peasant foodI've just had skirlie for my lunch. It's tasty, easily made, very filling and it's slow release energy. Kind of stops me wanting to nibble through the afternoon
It occurred to me as I was making it that this really is peasant food; the kind of food that was the staple in the British Isles before we started importing foods like rice, corn and so on.
I freely admit I buy Scottish produced foods for preference. Much like the rest of the country presumably buys Welsh, Cornish, Lancashire, Yorkshire, etc.,
I thought maybe a thread of 'Plain Food' recipes. Homegrown where possible type foods. Not fancy high days and holidays, but food food, comfort food, good for you food.
Skirlie is basically oatmeal (pinhead meal or sieved porage meal, you really want the split grains not so much ground to flour grains) fried in a tasty fat, then stirred through with water (or left over stock or jelly), seasoned and gently poached. It's either served hot like that, or put into an ashet (pie dish type thing) and pressed down tidily with a fork and allowed to set. It's cut into squares, wedges or diamonds and either eaten cold or then re-fried (doesn't need any more fat if you use a good well seasoned old pan)
think of it as a kind of savoury oaty polenta. Some folks gently fry onions in it too, but Son2 gets hellish wind from them, so I don't bother usually.
If you fry or grill bacon and have the fat from that, then you can use that for skirlie, or the fat from duck, goose, chicken, lamb or beef, it's waste not want not type food
I make it in smallish quantities….one table spoonful of fat to maybe five or six of oatmeal. If you want onion in it, chop if small and fry that gently first until it is pale gold and translucent, then add the oats.
Stir it as it 'fries' (like doing the flour for the roux for white or cheese sauce for cauliflower) It'll bubble and it won't stick but it does need moved around the pan. After maybe five minutes or so I'll add most of a mug of boiling water to it, and as the whole thing starts to thicken up I'll take it off the heat and keep it stirring.
I season with salt and fresh black pepper. My husband likes chilli sauce My Dad liked grated cheese.
Indian ladies season their version with fried 'tempering' of seeds and chopped herbs spread on top and serve it with chutney.
I just keep mine simple, and take a notion to it every so often. I love the smell of it cooking, the toasted nutty oatiness of it and for a technically heavy food, it's not weighty, you don't need a lot to feel you have eaten well and it genuinely doesn't leave you feeling hungry or bloated.