Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Steel-Cut Oatmeal, a Whole-Grain Breakfast Favorite

The weather's turning crisp up here in Yankee Land.  Right now the days are sunny and warm, but the pumpkins and winter squash are appearing in the farmers' markets and the floor feels chilly against my
bare feet in the morning.  Hence, it's time to resurrect the oatmeal breakfast.

I was never a fan of oatmeal as a kid unless it was rolled oats in cookies (surprise).  My mom never made it for breakfast, but for some reason we had packages of the instant, stir-in-hot-water stuff in the pantry that I tried a couple of times and found the texture extremely offputting.  Somewhere in my quest for tasty whole grains I discovered steel-cut oats and the difference is stark.  Steel-cut oats have a nice toothy bite, nutty flavor, and tons of soluble fiber that sticks to your ribs on brisk bike ride to work.  They do, however, take a bit longer to cook (~25 minutes) and I have two appliance-base ways around that:

1) Throw it in a rice cooker when I first get out of bed and go on about my morning business until it's ready.
2) Put it in a slow cooker with a "keep-warm" function the night before and it's ready when I am.  Mini crockpots are perfect for this, but I just use my giant Cuisinart and nuke the leftovers on subsequent days.

With both appliances, use 1/4 cup steel cut oats, 1 cup water, and a pinch of salt for each serving. There will be a gooey layer on top and maybe some crusty bits on the bottom by the time it's finished.
Just stir it to combine before serving.

My favorite oatmeal: raisins, pecans (sometimes toasted), maple syrup, and a splash of half & half.

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