Saturday, November 22, 2014

Steel Cut Oats

[For an alternate version of this oatmeal, one that is creamier, see this update.]

Oatmeal is good. Oatmeal with steel cut oats is even better. The downside to the steel cut oats is they take a while to cook, at least 15 minutes and sometimes much longer. Because they cook longer, they can stick to the bottom of the pot, especially if you don't stir them.

There are two ways to make cooking steel cut oats foolproof: a pressure cooker or a slow cooker.

If you want to use a slow cooker, I recommend Alton Brown's method. You cook the oats overnight and they are perfect when you wake up in the morning. Alton uses dried cranberries and dried figs in his recipe. You can use any combination of dried fruits you want. They will all add some sweetness, enough so you won't need much sweetener besides the fruit.

My favorite method is the pressure cooker. I would recommend a pressure cooker over a slow cooker as your first time-saving cooking device (you can even get a combination pressure/slow cooker called an Instant Pot, which I recommend if you have the funds for this investment). You can cook steel cut oats in about 4 minutes. They will be slightly chewy at this point. Their texture is better if you let them sit, off the heat, for 10 minutes. It's also great reheated in the microwave. Add a bit of milk because it will get thicker after it cools.

The Instant Pot recommends that you cook oats in a non-dairy milk, such as almond milk or coconut milk. Cow's milk scorches while non-dairy milk doesn't. I've tried all three milks and I like coconut milk the best. I did find that cow's milk scorches and therefore don't recommend it for pressure cooker oats.

Pressure Cooker Steel Cut Oats
(serves 4)

1 cup steel cut oats
2 cups water
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk such as coconut or almond
¼ cup raisins or your favorite dried fruit, diced
2 pinches salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 3" stick cinnamon (optional)

For each serving, add all or some of these:
fresh fruit or more dried fruit
2 teaspoons sweetener, like brown sugar or maple sugar
1 Tablespoon chopped nuts
a sprinkling of ground cinnamon
a splash of milk or cream

Put the oats, water, milk, raisins, salt, vanilla, and cinnamon stick in the pressure cooker. Lock on the lid and bring up to pressure. Reduce heat to maintain pressure and cook for 3 minutes (4 minutes at 5000 ft.). Turn off heat and allow pressure to drop naturally for 10 minutes or more. Open the pot (carefully - the contents are still very hot) and stir. Serve hot.

Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator. They can be reheated, covered, in the microwave for 90 seconds.

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