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,