Cream of Wheat Recipe
Several months back, someone posted a request for a recipe that would match the cream of wheat served at The Neighborhood, a small Portuguese breakfast/lunch joint in Cambridge/Somerville, Mass. After several months of experimentation, I think I've come pretty close. For those not fortunate enough to live near The Neighborhood, my approximation is as follows:
Ingredients (for two modest servings)
1/4 cup 10 minute Cream of Wheat (yellow box)
1.5 T unsalted butter
2 T sugar
1/4 t kosher salt
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t good vanilla extract
2.25 to 2.5 cups 1% or 2% milk (whole milk works too, but fat content is not as important to the creaminess of this dish as you might think -- I suspect that, like risotto, it's the starch that makes it creamy.)
Melt 1 T of butter in a medium sauce pan over medium low heat. Once melted, add the cream of wheat and stir often until it just barely begins to brown. (If you go too far and get noticeable browning, throw it out and start over.) Stirring constantly, add 2.25 cups of milk, reserving the remaining 1/4 cup to adjust the consistency later. You'll get a burst of steam when you first start to add the milk to the frying cream of wheat, so watch out, but if you don't stir at this point, you'll get lumps. Once the milk has been added, turn the heat down to low, and add the salt, sugar and cinnamon. Let cook slowly for about ten minutes, stirring often, then stir in the vanilla and remove from heat. The porridge will continue to cook for a bit, and will thicken some as it cools. Consistency is key here -- you want the finished product to have the texture of a warm loose pudding, which means it needs to be on the liquidly side at this point. If it's too thick, add a bit more milk to thin it out. Cover the sauce pan and let it sit for five minutes or so, then stir in the remaining half T of butter and pour into two bowls. At the Neighborhood, they add a shake cinnamon before serving, but if you want to get fancy, you can also add a teaspoon or two of sugar and caramelize it with a torch (like a creme bruleé). Also, you can add a bit of nutmeg along with the cinnamon if you like, but be careful -- the nutmeg tends to overpower the other relatively subtle flavors in this dish -- one scrap on the nutmeg grater is enough.
I saw this cream of wheat featured on $24 in 24 on Food Network last week. The owner would not share the recipe, citing that there were top secret ingredients, but she did state that there was no butter (she actually sounded offended when butter was suggested). She also confirmed that there is lemon (she did not state whether it was juice or zest) in the recipe. Hope this helps!
Although this may sound like a pitch for The French Connection in Toronto, following is our version of Cream of Wheat Gentrified. David's idea to caramalize the top is excelllent.
Cream of Wheat à la French Connection
· 6 cups of milk
· 1 cup of cream of wheat
· ¼ to ½ tsp salt
· ¼ cup butter
· zest of 1.5 lemons
· ½ tsp cinnamon
· 1tsp vanilla
· 1 cup whipped cream
· ½ cup toasted almonds
Place milk in a large pot
Add salt to taste
Heat milk slowly until very hot but not boiling, stirring constantly.
Sprinkle cream of wheat into milk slowly while stirring.
Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, until thickened.
Remove from heat.
Add vanilla, cinnamon & 1/3 of lemon zest, chopped finely.
Cook an additional minute or so, still stirring.
Place about one cup of cooked cream of wheat in each bowl
Garnish with a spoonful of toasted almonds, whipped cream and a few strings of lemon zest in the center. Serve immediately, before the cream melts.
Serve with an assortment of berries, maple syrup and the remaining toasted almonds arranged in ramekins on a platter.
Yields 6 servings.
1. Use a lemon zester to obtain nice thin strings of lemon zest. Reserve 2/3 to decorate. Chop remaining 1/3 finely.
2. Make your own whipped cream: pour 1 cup of 35% cream into cooled smallest bowl of mixer. Whip at highest speed until thickened. (Because this is a very small quantity, it helps to scrape the cream from the edges of the bowl into center a few times to ensure even consistency. Unless you have a very steady hand, do not try this while the mixer is on.) Add a little vanilla. Whip a little more. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until required.
3. Toast slivered almonds by placing in a shallow baking pan in a pre-heated oven (350degrees) until golden and crisp. Takes just a few minutes so keep close watch.
I just tried this recipe out (excluding the whipped cream and almonds). It ended up very good :). I added the butter in after thickening the cream of wheat, since you never said where to add the butter. Also, I added about ½ cup of sugar and it balanced out the vanilla better. The little girl I baby-sit absolutely loved it and so do I. Bravo.
re: Professor Salt
One little tweak that I noticed on re-reading this today -- my quarter cup of cream of wheat tends to be a bit on the generous side, which is to say, I don't level it out to make a perfect quarter cup, but rather leave it just a little bit over filled. It's probably really like a quarter cup plus a teaspoon.
re: Professor Salt
my boyfriend and i went to school in cambridge and LOVE neighborhood. every time we go back to boston now, even if it's for a day, we make sure to go there and get the cream of wheat. you have no idea how ecstatic we were when i stumbled upon this recipe and we nearly shit our pants when we cooked it this morning. it's the closest we've ever come to their cream of wheat without actually being in the restaurant. you've made the day, no the YEAR, for two california residents who seriously miss boston. NICE WORK!!