Sunday, October 02, 2005

Steel-cut oats - another whole-grain breakfast

Two events came together in my late childhood to make me love oatmeal: my parents started cooking it on the stove using thick rolled oats, and I learned that there was no reason to limit the amount of brown sugar I spooned onto my oatmeal. My SO didn't learn to like oatmeal until after we started living together, primarily because my SO's parents mandated that oatmeal be "sweetened" only with unsweetened applesauce (shudder).

Recently my SO and I decided to try some steel-cut oatmeal. Steel-cut oats are made by cutting whole oat grains into pieces, rather than steaming and rolling the oats as is typical for American oatmeal. The steel-cut oats take a bit longer to cook than rolled oats, but they're chewier and more flavorful than thick rolled oats. To help celebrate cooking week, here's the recipe we used to make our steel-cut oats this morning (quoted from Alton Brown):
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups boiling water
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

In a large saucepot, melt the butter and add the oats. Stir for 2 minutes to toast. Add the boiling water and reduce heat to a simmer. Keep at a low simmer for 25 minutes, without stirring.

Combine the milk and half of the buttermilk with the oatmeal. Stir gently to combine and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Spoon into a serving bowl and top with remaining buttermilk, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
The recipe says it makes four servings, but we find it makes two very generous bowls or three moderate bowls.

We don't usually have buttermilk on hand, but we almost always have whole-milk yogurt (for Lassi and other Indian food), so after the 25 minutes of simmering we added 1/2 cup 1% milk and 1/4 cup whole-milk yogurt, and continued cooking as specified. The oats were creamy enough that we didn't need to pour any additional milk, cream, or yogurt on top after they were cooked (though my SO sometimes does add a bit of cream).

Alton Brown vastly underestimates the amount of brown sugar required for a good bowl of oatmeal. We probably add ~1/8 to 1/4 cup brown sugar to each of our bowls (and leave out the cinnamon). A bit of oatmeal with your sugar: that's the secret :)

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