Steel-Cut Oats

February 11, 2011 § 3 Comments

Where have you been all my life, steel-cut oats?

Ten years ago, I don’t believe I had ever eaten oatmeal. Maybe I had had one of those wimpy packet of instant oatmeal, if you want to call that oatmeal. Mom had a container of Quaker Oast around the house, but it was for cookies only, not breakfast. So, my uneducated and untested opinion of oatmeal was that its gloppiness reflected its taste and I wanted nothing to do with it.

Then Jennifer came along and made me the world’s best oatmeal. It wasn’t the instant stuff, and it wasn’t the quick oats, I don’t think. It was rolled oats, for sure, with that familiar flattened, flake-like appearance. Boil, stir, simmer, toss in some raisins for a minute and Whammo! Five minutes later there’s a tasty breakfast. With a pour of maple syrup and a smattering of slivered almonds on top, of course. Mmmm … nice and hearty. For the most part, I leave the oatmeal making to Jennifer. She’s good at it. It’s her job.

steel-cut oats

Steel-cut oats—they actually look like oats!

One day on a visit to New York, our friend Bernadett raved about the flavor of steel-cut oats. Now that’s a whole other animal, for sure, steel-cut oats. That familiar flaky oat appearance? Not happenin’ with steel-cut oats. When you look at rolled oats, you can’t really get a good idea of what that flake was previously. Not really. It is a smushed something. But when you look at steel-cut oats, its “grain-ness” just jumps right out at you. It looks like the oats we used to grow back on the farm—just chopped crosswise into smaller pieces. Cooking time—well, let’s say it’s not a breakfast food appropriate for a gotta-get-out-the-door morning.

Thanks to my baking of Flour’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and the depletion of our rolled oats, we found ourselves in front of the bulk bins at Whole Foods. Steel-cut oats in a bin to the left. Rolled oats in a bin to the right. We had experience with rolled. We knew we liked rolled. But we heard great things about steel cut. Plus, they were on sale. Steel-cut, it is.

Recipe (for 2)

  1. Put a scant 2 cups water in a small 2-qt. pot. Add a pinch of kosher salt. Heat on high until boiling.
  2. Stir in a generous 1 cup of steel-cut oats. IMMEDIATELY turn heat down as low as it can go. Cover.
  3. Set timer for 15 minutes. And go write your morning blog post.
  4. When timer goes off, stir in a handful of raisins. Cover. Set timer for 5 minutes.
  5. Divide into two bowls. Top with your favorite stuff. Enjoy.

Mmmmm ... breakfast.

*IMPORTANT NOTE! Jennifer just told me to leave the lid slightly ajar. This way we don’t get those flair-ups that result in oatmeal goo dripping down the pot and onto the stovetop that she just cleaned.

Don’t expect your typical oatmeal experience. Like I said before, this is a whole other animal. It’s more grainy. More chewy. More nutty. Less gooey. Maybe there’s less of a viscous texture because the oat hasn’t been smushed and there is less surface area. I dunno. But I do know that I prefer it.

Nutrition? Is it better for you? More nutritious? Maybe. Or maybe it’s the same. Honestly, I don’t really care about the details so much. I do know it’s oats, and it’s a whole grain, and it’s good for you. And, it’s filling.

Now I can be like my mom and keep that container of rolled oats exclusively for the cookies.

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