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On the comforts of Steel-Cut Oatmeal

My mother-in-law knows how to cook up a mean pot of steel-cut oats.  Whenever we go to visit for breakfast or brunch, there’s usually some of that magical, warm porridge waiting for us, along with a proper cup of tea.  Mom cooks her oatmeal with hearty add-ins like raisins that plump with the slow heat, agave, and just a hint of cinnamon spice.  Oftentimes, we will top off our bowls with chopped walnuts, and maybe a splash of almond milk.  Last week, I was remembering our breakfasts at Mom’s house, when I tried my hand at recreating her famous steel-cut oatmeal here at home.  Happily, the porridge tasted just right and I sat down to two bowls!

Lately, I find that I love the dense, chewy texture and the subtly nutty flavor of steel-cut oats.  Cooked simply, with water and a touch of salt, and finished with but a pat of butter and a light drizzle of syrup, the natural flavor of the oats sings.  Heidi Swanson of http://www.101cookbooks.com has this great section in her cookbook Super Natural Cooking that highlights seven different ways to liven up steel-cut oatmeal.  One morning, feeling particularly decadent, I followed her lead and cooked the porridge until it was very thick, and then stirred in a generous amount of full-fat coconut milk.  Then, I topped our bowls with toasted coconut flakes and chunks of ripe, sticky-sweet mango; we all found that to be super satisfying.

Yes, cooking the oats from scratch does take time.  I usually let mine go close to 40 minutes before eating.  If you have the time, the actual cooking is low-maintenance.  I rather like watching the pot bubble and pop, stirring every so often.  On the other hand, a lot of people soak their steel-cut oats overnight to save on cooking time, though I have yet to try.

Wishing you warm meals in good company on the cooler days ahead,

W.

Tropical Steel-Cut Oatmeal
Tropical oats with coconut milk, toasted coconut flakes, and mango chunks.
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