Sunday, January 17, 2010
HOW TO COOK STEEL-CUT OATS
My dad always made the most amazing oatmeal. He would get up early and cook old-fashioned oatmeal slowly in a double boiler for hours. It was creamy, hot and delicious.
Today, it seems we’re all looking for shortcut cooking methods to produce fantastic results. Instant oatmeal? Yeah, I guess it’s creamy, and it sure is fast; but my go-to oatmeal has always been old-fashioned oats (5-minute). I’ve never cooked it in a double boiler like my Dad, so it’s not as creamy as his, but it is satisfying, hearty and delicious.
Lately, though, I’ve been using steel-cut oats. They’re not as processed as rolled oats, have slightly more nutritional value, and are slightly less glycemic. I particularly like Country Choice Organic Steel Cut Oats,
I’ve found some shortcut methods:
1. McCann (the Irish oatmeal people) suggest pouring boiling water over the oats before you go to bed, then reheating the next morning for a shorter cooking time. I haven’t tried this method, but it sounds interesting, and if I can remember to do it before I go to bed some night, I’ll give it a try and report back to you.
2. Eating Well has a recipe for overnight crockpot oatmeal, as does Alton Brown of the Food Network and many food blogs. When I had company recently, two of us wanted oatmeal in the morning, so I tried a recipe from Allrecipes.com for the overnight cooking method. I added apple chunks and extra water, thanks to reviewers’ comments. The texture of the oatmeal was great, but there just was no flavor. I also didn’t like the thick crust that formed all around the insides of the crockpot. However, if I had a large family to cook for, this might be an option, using dried, not fresh, fruits as additives. For just one person, though, the crockpot method isn’t practical. Some people cook a big batch, refrigerate the leftovers and microwave as needed. That doesn’t appeal to me, since I avoid the microwave as much as possible and don’t want food sitting in my fridge to grow mold.
Here’s how I do it:
The first thing I do in the morning is to measure out into a 1-1/2 quart pot a scant 1/4 cup of oats , 1-1/2 cups of water, and a pinch of salt. I bring this to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium high (or hot enough to maintain a low boil). I let this boil gently for about 10 minutes. It’s not necessary to stir it until it starts to slightly thicken, which should be about the 10-minute mark. I continue to boil the oats uncovered for another 15 minutes or so while I’m reading the paper and watching the news on my kitchen TV, throwing a load of laundry in, or gathering ingredients for something I’ll be baking…..you get the picture. It doesn’t require my constant attention, unless, of course, the burner is set too high and it starts to boil over. After about 20-25 minutes of total cooking time, the liquid should have reduced somewhat. Time to give it a good stir, put the lid on, and reduce heat to the lowest point, a simmer. Just hang around for a few minutes to be sure the pot won’t boil over from retained heat. Now go do something for a good half hour and come back to your oatmeal. The liquid should have reduced more as the oats absorbed it. Stir it again and either continue cooking it with the lid on at a simmer till you’re ready for it, or finish it the way you like.
I Iusually add my homemade apple-cranberry sauce and extra cinnamon. The applesauce goes in the pot with the oatmeal; the heat gets cranked up, then it’s scooped into my bowl. Into the pot goes my milk (which happens to be soy milk since I’m allergic to milk) to just get warmed. I spoon flax oil and toasted crushed walnuts over the oatmeal, then top it off with a sprinkle of Chai Spice Blend and my warmed milk. QUESTIONS: So, have you tried steel-cut oats yet? If yes, what is your preferred cooking method?