Friday, October 3, 2008

Steel Cut Oatmeal -- Breakfast of Champions

Here's how my oatmeal addiction progressed...

First I was eating instant oatmeal packets because they were convenient to take to work and add hot water to from the water cooler. Then I moved on to a different job without a water cooler.

I upgraded to quick cook oats in the canister, 1 minute in the microwave, done. Super! The texture was so much less like wallpaper paste than instant! Then one day we ran out, and only had slow cook oats. (Slow being 5 minutes) I got hooked.

Slow cook oats have tons more texture than quick oats, and I still eat them when I'm in the mood for "regular" oatmeal... but then my sights wandered to Steel Cut Oatmeal. I had no idea what to do with it, and quite frankly, the internet wasn't too helpful unless I wanted to cook enough to feed the masses. I just wanted to cook enough to feed me breakfast! I took some guidelines from a few recipes, and have since evolved my own technique for cooking them. They are so delicious! They have a nice chewy texture and a slightly nutty flavor. They do take 20-30 minutes to cook, but it's so worth it! You can make a big pot and reheat in the morning if you don't have time to make them in the AM -- I usually just make them on mornings I'm not rushed. And so, here is my technique for cooking Steel Cut Oats. Your toppings may vary.

Ok ok, you can't even SEE the oats there... but they're under the diced banana, toasted pecans, and maple syrup. NOM!

Steel Cut Oatmeal (For One)
1/3 cup steel cut oats
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup ~milk of your choice (I use rice), + more to taste

1. In a medium-sized pot, toast the oats over medium heat until they start to smell toasty (kind of like popcorn!) and start to "pop" (also kind of like popcorn!). Stir them around frequently and don't walk away because they burn fast!!

2. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to maintain a low boil, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes.

3. At this point, your water should look like it cooked down some at the oats start to look creamy. Add 1/2 cup ~milk and stir to incorporate. Turn the heat to low and simmer another 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

4. Now most of the liquid should be absorbed, and usually at this point, they're soft enough for me. If you want them softer, simmer longer; you may need to add more ~milk. If they're soft enough but too thick, add a bit more milk to achieve desired consistency.

Here's the fun part -- What to mix in?

My normal routine is:
Somewhere in the 2nd half of cooking, add 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses (++ iron/calcium/trace minerals) and a few shakes of cinnamon. Once the heat is turned off, add a little vanilla extract. Then I top it with fruit and lightly toasted nuts, and brown sugar or maple syrup. Some favorite combos are:
Bananas and Pecans (as featured)
Apples and Walnuts
Berries and Raw Cashews
Cherries (fresh, frozen, or dried) and slivered almonds

This breakfast keeps me filled for a LONG time!

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