Oatmeal has a long history in Scottish culinary traditions because oats are better suited than wheat to the short, wet growing season. Therefore, it became the staple grain of that country. Ancient Scottish Universities had a holiday called Meal Monday, to permit students to return to their farms and collect more oats for food.
Samuel Johnson referred, disparagingly, to this in his dictionary definition for oats: "Agrain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people." His biographer, James Boswell, noted that Lord Elibank was said by Sir Walter Scott to have retorted, "Yes, and where else will you see such horses and such men?"
A common alternative method of cooking oatmeal in Scotland is to soak it overnight in salted water and cook on a low heat in the morning for a few minutes until the mixture thickens.
In Scotland, oatmeal is created by grinding oats into a coarse powder. Various grades are available depending on the thoroughness of the grinding, including Coarse, Pin(head) and Fine oatmeal. The main uses are:
- Traditional porridge (or "porage")
- Brose: a thick mixture made with uncooked oatmeal and butter or cream; eaten like porridge but much more filling.
- Rolled oats, crushed oats, and other "instant" variations are often used for this purpose nowadays, since they are quicker to prepare.
- Gruel, made by mixing oatmeal with cold water which is then strained and heated for the benefit of infants and people recovering from illness.
- as an ingredient in baking
- in the manufacture of bannocks or oatcakes
- as a stuffing for poultry
- as a coating for Caboc cheese
- as the main ingredient of the Scottish dish, skirlie, or its chip-shop counterpart, the deep-fried thickly-battered mealy pudding
- mixed with sheep's blood, salt, and pepper to make Highland black pudding
- mixed with fat, water, onions and seasoning, and boiled in a sheep's intestine to make "marag geal"' Outer Hebridean white pudding, served sliced with fried eggs at breakfast
- as a major component of haggis.
- 3-4oz (75-100g) slightly toasted and sifted oatmeal
- 10fl oz (300ml) double or whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon malt whisky
- 6oz (175g) raspberries or blackberries (or a mixture of both)
- Whip the cream.
- Pour the whisky over the oatmeal and fold the mixture into the cream.
- Fold in the fruit reserving a few pieces for decoration.
Serve in glasses chilled.