I use a lot of oatmeal, but it's the quick-cooking type that comes in the cylindrical container. I add it to most of the muffins and breads I bake, because it's healthy (high in fiber and low in fat) and fills me up for a long time. Most mornings I'm out the door less than an hour after I wake up, and a muffin, along with fruit, milk, and coffee, makes for a quick breakfast.
I'm always looking to try new things, though, so last week when I was in the bulk aisle at Whole Foods and noticed they had steel-cut oats on sale I bought some. They've been sitting on a shelf in the pantry since then, because I wasn't sure how to cook them. Today I had enough time to do the necessary research and preparation, so I cooked steel-cut oats.
A quick oat primer: Steel cut oats, also known as pinhead, Scotch, or Irish oats, are whole oat groats (kernels) that have been chopped into smaller pieces. Rolled oats are groats that have been steamed, rolled and flaked for easier cooking. Quick cooking oats are rolled oats that have been chopped into smaller pieces, and instant oats are cut even smaller and have salt, sugar, and flavorings added.
Every Website I visited had a slightly different recipe for steel cut oats, but they all had similar proportions of oats and liquid (1 cup oats to 4 cups water or milk) and a bit of salt. Many added dried fruit. The most common cooking directions were to bring the oats and water to a boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the oatmeal reachs the proper consistency and most of the liquid is absorbed.
After cooking my oats, I added a teaspoon of vanilla and a handful each of dried cranberries and raisins. I poured a serving into a bowl, along with a spoonful of brown sugar and some walnuts. Then I sat down to try my concoction.
WOW! The oatmeal was creamy, but actually had a chewy texture. After I finished the first bowl, I had a second one, and put the rest in the refrigerator, where I understand it will keep for several days. I know oatmeal doesn't always heat up well, but it will be good to have a quick substantial breakfast later in the week, even if its texture isn't as prime as it was today.