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Winter porridge hack

| 12 Dec 2022 | 01:34

Greetings Dirt readers. Have I mentioned how grateful I am to participate in this publication? I love passing along quirky tips and tricks to help any cook build flavor and spark creativity in the kitchen. And now for what might be the quirkiest tip yet... drum role... the star of this recipe is, wait for it... infant rice cereal. What? Really, no joke!

Infant rice cereal, or rice porridge, is otherwise known as congee, an Asian staple. This porridge is basically rice cooked down to a smooth consistency. It is very gentle, and can be made with whole rice if you have the time. However, this post-pandemic world seems speedier than ever. This “hack” is so simple, I find myself returning to it again and again. There is no need to boil water or cook for any amount of time with infant rice cereal. Just add water, salt, pepper and microwave for one minute. Top with whatever you have on hand and yum.

If you have some knowledge of flavor “profiles” you can make many alternatives of the recipe below. For example, a Mediterranean dish might consist of parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, garlic and onion. You could make this with an Asian flare using five spice, ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Here is a quick and easy method with what most American kitchens have in stock

Serves 2
2 cups infant rice cereal – organic preferred
Water to taste
4-5 tbsp healthy oil, I use avocado
4-5 cups hearty greens like swish chard, dandelion or kale
½ large yam, small-cubed
1 cup butternut or other squash, cubed
1 zucchini large slices
½ bunch red radish, cubed
2-4 tsp garlic powder
2-4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
Pat of butter
Two eggs, over easy
Fresh parsley if you have on hand
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot sauce if desired


Heat a large cast iron skillet on high heat and really bring the temperature up, then add oil. Note, some vegetables are cut larger than others in this recipe because of how quickly or slowly they cook. Yams, squash, and radish are cut into smaller cubes than the zucchini to even out cooking time. Add all vegetables (for best flavor dry them as much as possible) to the pan and season generously with salt and pepper. Sauté for 10–12 minutes, leaving undisturbed for short intervals (30 seconds to 2 minutes) to brown. Once you start seeing caramelization evenly throughout, add all spices: garlic powder, onion powder, thyme and oregano. Add a tiny bit of water to cook down the dry herbs, but not much as you don’t want to undo your delicious flavor. Add a small amount of butter and toss.

Now for the rice porridge. Put one cup of dry rice cereal in a bowl. The reason this recipe calls for “water to taste” is you can make this porridge as thick or thin as you like. Stir well, add salt and pepper to taste, and microwave about a minute.

To plate, add hot rice porridge to the bottom of a bowl, top with a pat of butter, then add vegetables to the middle of the bowl. Top with an over-easy egg (or meat protein if you prefer). Sprinkle with parsley, and enjoy!