Sunday, July 10, 2005

Sunday Brunch: Steel Cut Oats

I must admit that I don't know if I would serve this at a brunch. It is something I am more likely to make for myself. Indeed, I have oatmeal very frequently for breakfast.
Growing up, oatmeal was not one of my favorites. I didn’t dislike it, I just tended to make it when it was very cold or when I was sick. I didn’t make it well, usually overcooking the “quick cooking” variety of rolled oats in the microwave until it was sort of rubbery. I would then drown my breakfast in cinnamon, sugar and milk.
While I love ordinary oatmeal, I think I love steel cut oats more. It’s no secret that steel cut oatmeal takes longer to cook than rolled oats do. This is what really makes it appropriate for a weekend: time. It is not labor intensive to prepare, but it does take quite a while. Fortuantely, you can make a huge batch and store the leftover in the fridge. On busy weekdays, just spoon (or slice) some off and microwave it with a little bit of water to keep it moist.
This recipe makes 3-4 servings. According to the manufacturer, 1 cup cooked oatmeal is a serving. I like to have my oatmeal with dried and fresh fruit. With a chopped up banana or a big handful of blueberries filling up the bowl, I can only fit in so much oatmeal! If you add dried fruit towards the end of cooking, it will absorb moisture and become nice and tender.

Steel Cut Oatmeal
¾ cup oatmeal
3 ¼ cups water
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla
1/4-1/3 cup dried blueberries/currants/other (optional)

Combine oats and water in medium saucepan. Bring water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, after about 15 minutes, turn the heat down to medium. Stirring occasionally, cook for an additional 15 minutes. Once 30 minutes of total cooking time has elapsed, you need to watch the oatmeal. Stir it frequently – don’t worry if it stuck to the bottom of the pan earlier – for the next 5-10 minutes. Add the salt, vanilla, molasses and dried fruit, if using, and remove from the heat when the oatmeal has reached the consistency that you like. 10 minutes should yield an oatmeal of medium thickness. If you like yours very thick, continue cooking for an extra five minutes.
Top with butter, syrup, milk or sugar and enjoy!
Serves 3-4