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Skirlie is something like a savory oatmeal or porridge without as much moisture. As late as the early twentieth century it was the centerpiece of a dinner with potatoes or a vegetable for poorer Scots. It is an excellent foil for meat and fowl, including game, as either a stuffing or a side. Simplicity itself. About 4 servings.



  • 4 diced thick slices bacon
  • a big diced onion
  • 4 oz steel cut oatmeal (not rolled oats)
  • salt and pepper


  1. Cook the bacon until crisp over medium low heat in a heavy skillet.
  2. Add the onion and cook until it turns pale gold.
  3. Add the oatmeal and cook, stirring, until the oatmeal turns just brown, usually in only several minutes.
  4. Season the skirlie (be judicious with the salt because of the bacon) and serve as a side or let the skirlie cool before stuffing meat or poultry with it.


-The traditional recipes use only bacon fat, not bacon. The meat itself adds some flavor, color and texture.

-Some recipes use dripping or suet.