As a child, I did not like oatmeal. To me, it was tasteless slime that slithered down my throat, much like okra. I never was a picky eater, so other than the company of liver and tongue, there wasn’t much else that I refused to eat. But it has taken me years to grow to like what I consider not only an acquired taste, but an acquired texture.
When my boys were little, in spite of my own bias I decided, like any good mom would, to introduce them to the wholesomeness of oatmeal. They liked it, mostly. So every once in awhile, while I was preparing their oatmeal, I would take a bite or two to make sure there was enough, or not too much, sugar in it. Hmm, this isn’t so bad after all!
So for the past 18 years, one bite at a time, I have come to actually like oatmeal.
A couple of years ago, after reading about steel-cut oats and their virtues, I decided to give them a try.
Not only does using steel-cut oats significantly cut out the “slime” factor, but it also adds a new amazing dimension of nutty flavor to the whole oatmeal equation.
Once I started eating steel-cut oats, there was no turning back. Regular oatmeal has once again fallen from grace, and returned to its slimy, tasteless self.
For me, the other secret to great oatmeal is using milk, because there are very few things in life, if any, that are more disgusting than oatmeal made with water.
You can fancy it up any way you like, but here is how I make mine.
Yummy, Creamy, Steel Cut Oats
1 cup steel-cut oats
3 cups milk
1 cup water (gasp!)
*2-4 tablespoons butter
Pinch coarse sea salt
Whatever oatmeal fixins you like
Melt butter in a pan and add the steel-cut oats. Brown the oats for a good 3-5 minutes, but stir often, if not constantly. You want the oats to have a nice tan and a pleasant nutty aroma. (Do NOT burn! If you do, all of the work and waiting will be in vain; only the trash can will be able to enjoy your labor–ask mine!)
Next, add salt and pour in your milk and water. I have made mine with all 4 cups of milk and found no significant difference when I substituted one of the cups with water.
Bring to a boil and turn your heat down.
Cook for 30-40 minutes uncovered. (I know! Here is the part where you must remind yourself that, in the end, these oats are totally worth the wait.)
It is very important that you babysit your oats by stirring every few minutes, or they will stick and burn to the bottom of your pan. (Again, ask my trash can.)
You will end up with a hefty amount of oatmeal. (About 6-8 servings.) Take however much you want and doctor it up as you wish.
Personally, I like to sweeten it with sugar-in-the-raw and strawberries; I also add roasted almonds for added protein. I love the the complex combination of soft bites of oats, the mushiness of the strawberries and the extra crunch of the almonds.
My kids like it with just the sugar and a generous amount of cinnamon.
I put the leftovers in a container in the fridge and eat from it for days. Spoon off a clump, then throw it in a pan to reheat at medium-high heat with enough milk to reconstitute it to the “runniness” that you like.
*The amount of butter that you use is up to you, depending on how evil you deem it to be. I refuse to see butter as a villain. Maybe its only virtue is in its deliciousness, and the fact that it makes everything taste better, but that’s enough reason for me to go ahead and use 3-4 tablespoons.
I don’t always eat oatmeal, but when I do, I prefer Steel Oats
Stay hungry, my friends