No one can read ‘Oliver Twist’ and not want to help the young urchin boy who asks, ‘more gruel, please.’ The word ‘Gruel’ ,and rhymes with cruel, has been used as a derogatory term — I have heard — one chef using to describe a competitor’s culinary efforts.
Be this as it may, a bowl of gruel has come to us down through history as a dish served during tough economic times and depravation. For most recipes, gruel consists of a mixture of grain and water, but sometimes milk. Like ‘bread pudding’ it has been maligned and ignored , but it can be so much more.
If like my bride Laura and your tastes move away from hot breakfasts of oats, you may leave now.
It has been discovered that in the days of David Copperfield and Oliver Twist, Gruel consisted of three main ingredients: rolled oats, boiled milk and cooked onions. I am sure there was some salt as salt has been inexpensive throughout the ages. I find this an interesting base from which to develope a variety of recipes…. ranging from hearty stews to soups to a very pleasant breakfast. I’ll let you know how it finally turns out.
So next time someone asks you to try their recipe for Gruel… it just might surprise you!