The Recipe: Hang onto your breakfast slippers, people, because there’s a great new way to cook oatmeal. It's a blend of 50:50 steel-cut oats and old-fashioned rolled oats and the texture is light and creamy but also – there's just no other way to put it – almost chewy, a real porridge. It's wonderful done "sweet" with fruit, glazed pecans and a splash of maple syrup but also "savory" with sautéed veggies and an egg on top.
The Conversation: Three secrets to great oatmeal, one old, two new.
"... really like your blended rolled and steel-cut oats!" ~ Charlie
A dear friend, spoken with regret: “I don’t really like oatmeal.”
Me, responding with confidence: “Then you’re not using enough salt.”
At lunch a few weeks ago, my friend Riffi recalled this long-ago conversation. I have no memory of it – still, it doesn’t surprise me: the first secret to good oatmeal is salt.
What does surprise me is that the Microwave Creamy Oatmeal with Peanut Butter that’s been my go-to breakfast three or four or even five mornings a week for the last fifteen or so years now – that’s three thousand bowls of oatmeal! – has
new competition been displaced.
The second secret to good oatmeal? Whole milk! It yields oatmeal that’s light and creamy at the same time.
The third secret to great oatmeal? A mix of steel-cut oats and old-fashioned rolled oats. The combination is a mix of creamy and chewy.And my friend Riffi? She now eats oatmeal – cooked with enough salt, mind you – a few times a week. Wait until she learns my new secrets!
STUFF THAT WORKS All old-fashioned oats is excellent but the 2:1 mix of old-fashioned oats:steel cut oats has amazing texture, it’s almost chewy. No quick oatmeal here, no instant oatmeal here, just old-fashioned oats and steel-cut oats. Salt? Don’t even think about leaving it out. I’ve also added a tablespoon or two of chia seeds (before cooking) and protein powder (after cooking) to the Almost-Chewy Creamy Oatmeal: both work great.
STUFF THAT DOESN’T WORK For vegan and dairy-free “creamy” oatmeal, I tried both almond milk (homemade and commercial) and coconut milk: “fine” but to my taste, these are nothing special. I also use 2% milk, our usual drinking milk. The oatmeal is still quite creamy and quite good – just not as special as whole milk. I had high hopes that Almost-Chewy Creamy Oatmeal would turn out well in the slow cooker – but sorry, no-no-no. It was edible but lost all the amazing texture that happens on the stovetop. Since I have such good luck “slow cooking” in the oven at low temperature overnight, it was worth a shot to cook oatmeal this way. But yuck, what a disaster! The oats were like glue and went straight into the garbage. One batch, I added chai-style spices; somehow the oatmeal tasted “sweet” even without added sugar. Some will like this but we didn’t.
ALMOST-CHEWY CREAMY OATMEAL
Time to table: 20 minutes
Makes 2 cups, easily multiplied for more servings
- 1 cups oats – preferably 2/3 cup old-fashioned and 1/3 cup steel-cut
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (don’t skip!)
In a heavy saucepan that’s big enough for stirring and for the volume to more than double, bring the oats, milk, water and salt to a boil on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
Once it comes to a boil – there will be big sloppy bubbles – stir continuously with a silicone spatula, scraping the sides of the saucepan often, until the oats absorb all the liquid, about 5 minutes. Don’t walk away, otherwise the oats will scorch!
If you’re using steel-cut oats, cook the oatmeal for another 5 minutes, stirring continuously, until the denser steel-cut oat pieces soften but retain some chewiness.
After five minutes, if the steel-cut oats aren't done, add more liquid, either more 1:1 milk:water or just water and continue to cook until they finish. You can also do add liquid to loosen the oats to your liking, they really absorb an amazing amount of liquid.
SERVE IT PLAIN I l-o-v-e this oatmeal plain, all by itself, just tiny teaspoons at a time, really savoring the texture and creaminess, you can actually taste and touch the oats!
DRESS IT UP Top with seasonal fruits, a few Maple-Glazed Pecans and a tiny splash of maple syrup.
MAKE-AHEAD TIPS Almost-Chewy Creamy Oatmeal is best served straight from the stove so I tend to make it in small batches. Still, it does reheat well. Before reheating either in the microwave or on the stovetop, stir in some extra milk or water to loosen the oats. Believe it or not, I like this oatmeal cold too! Again, it's that great texture!
Morning Oatmeal: Make It Savory!
Breakfast oatmeal doesn't have to be sweet, it really doesn't. Especially in the summer, we like to saut´e a few vegetables and put an egg on top. Dreamy good, that soft yolk streaming into the creamy oatmeal.
Morning Oatmeal Plus Seasonal Fruit? Heaven
Even just a touch of fresh fruit tastes like a real indulgence on Almost-Chewy Creamy Oatmeal.
More Favorite Ways to Cook Oatmeal
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