Steel-cut oats completely miss the point of oatmeal. For one thing, they take forever to cook. I would be willing to overlook this inconvenience if the final result were stick-to-your-ribs spectacular. It is not. The final result is usually a bunch of chewy little grain nubbins suspended in a hot, viscous liquid. It is not soft, it is not creamy, and it is not comforting.
To find those qualities – the defining ones for good oatmeal – you need rolled oats. These are slightly less nutritious, but far more pleasant to eat for breakfast. Steel-cut oats are hulled oats (aka oat groats) that have been very minimally processed. Rolled oats have been flattened, steamed and toasted, which makes them much quicker to cook. (Rolled oats take 5 to 10 minutes, steel-cut oats about 30.) Many oat processors take this too far: quick and instant oats have been pulverized to the point that mushiness is inevitable. But the sweet spot – those rolled oats labeled “old-fashioned” or “thick rolled” – is truly sweet: These oats end up tender and thick, and there’s just enough sturdiness to prevent the porridge from dissolving into sludge.
It needs some help, though. Oatmeal should always be cooked in roughly equal parts water and milk. If you make it with only water, it won’t be creamy enough, and you’ll be hungry again an hour and a half later. If you make it with only milk, you’ll have to watch it like a hawk to prevent the dairy from sticking, burning or forming an icky skin. Non-dairy milks, especially almond milk, are great in oatmeal, too.
To top it, sautee some apples, bringing them to about the same temperature as the porridge. Use cooking apples if you want firm slices. Use eating apples if you don’t mind them disintegrated.
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