Oatmeal is one of those foods I didn’t fully appreciate until adulthood. My early introductions were granules poured from a packet and mixed with water. I know instant oatmeal is a booming business, but it doesn’t qualify as the real thing, and in my case turned me off the delicious nutty grain for a good 20 years.
Now, it’s not uncommon to find me grinding my own oats to make a quick soda bread, and of I have a soft spot for oatmeal raisin cookies. On a cold winter morning though, curling up with a bowl of steaming, creamy oats is my ideal way to enjoy them. My husband and older daughter are fans of old-fashioned oats, and on busy mornings I can’t argue since they’re ready in about 10 minutes. When time allows, or I’ve planned properly, though, steel cut oats are a real breakfast game changer. They’re nutty flavor and toothsome texture leave me with a more satisfied feeling.
Timing is everything, though. This is a heartier grain than old-fashioned oats, and can take up to 30 minutes to cook, depending on how soft you prefer them. Soaking the oats overnight is one way to speed the cooking process. Just set the pot up before bedtime, and follow the cooking directions, except they’ll only need about 10 minutes to simmer. One homecook from the recipe site Food 52 lets her slow cooker do all the work
When it comes to toppings, really the sky’s the limit. Keep it savory with nut butters, caramelized onions, fresh ricotta or a dollop of crème fraiche. Go sweet with a drizzle of maple syrup, chopped dried apricots and cherries or a spoonful of strawberry jam. Whichever way you serve it, you’re body will thank you for the fiber-filled and protein-rich healthy head start.
Basic Steel Cut Oat
1 cup steel cut oats
4 cups water
pinch of salt
Bring water to a boil in a deep pot. Add oats and cook until they begin to thicken. Reduce to a simmer, and continue cooking, uncovered, until grains are slightly tender and water has mostly absorbed, about 18 to 20 minutes.