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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Irish Oatmeal (by Tona)

What’s the only thing stopping you from starting a cold winter day with a bowl of hearty, fiber-rich, steel-cut oatmeal? I’m not talking about the pansy, rolled-oats stuff that turns into glue when cooked, or even that sawdust-with-dried apples that Quaker Oats sells in the little packets. No ma’am, I’m talking about the real Irish oatmeal, rich and chewy. The only thing stopping you is the hour it takes for it to cook, right? Who has that kind of time in the morning? Seriously, no one.

A few months ago I discovered frozen single servings of Irish oatmeal at Trader Joe’s , and those were great, but they only came in a 3-pack and for a family of 6 that could add up fast. I bet I could make them at home for less, and found it was really easy and delicious.

All you need is a can of McCann’s Steel Cut Oatmeal , and an hour – so do this ahead, while you’re making dinner or some afternoon when you’re already in the kitchen whipping up some other amazing VGP delicacy. The ratio is one cup of oats to 4 cups water – I like to double that because as long as I’m making it, why not make a lot, and I get 10 half-cup single servings out of a doubled batch.

Into a heavy Dutch oven or other stovetop pot, put 8 cups of water and bring to a boil (I add about 1 tsp of salt to the water as it comes to a boil). Then add 2 cups of the oats, and stir. Keep an eye on it, although you don’t have to stir it constantly, for about 5 minutes until the water starts to look creamy. Then lower the heat to med-low, and simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring now and then to keep it from sticking to the bottom. I add about 2/3 cup of brown sugar and a drizzle of maple syrup while it cooks, to pre-sweeten it. You’ll know it’s done when it’s thick, all the liquid is absorbed, and it starts to make a skin on the top.

Remove the pot from heat, and prepare your bowls. I like to use a Texas muffin tin, which holds about ½ cup in each bowl. Or you can use small ramekins, or bowls, or mugs or cups or actually anything. Lightly spray them with nonstick spray, and ladle in about ½ cup of the cooked oatmeal. Then put them into the freezer and wait overnight.

Next day, run the muffin tin or cups under warm water until the frozen oatmeal pops out looking like a beige hockey puck. Wrap each one individually securely in plastic wrap and return it to the freezer.

Now you are completely set for some breakfast when you need something fast, hearty, healthy, and filling, in a jiffy. Just take one “hockey puck” of oatmeal, remove it from the plastic wrap and put it into a microwave-safe bowl, wave it for 3 minutes (I usually put the plastic wrap over the top of the bowl to prevent any spatters), and stir. Add toppings – the list is truly endless – you could add a little more sweetness with Demerara sugar, or syrup. Top with berries, chopped dried fruit, nuts (we like chopped pecans or walnuts), butter, whipped cream, milk, soymilk, half and half – anything depending on your tastes and how many calories you want to add (it’s about 150 calories unadorned). Enjoy!

Also, as this post over at pinchmysalt testifies, you don’t have to freeze it. We just do because we don’t eat Irish oatmeal every day, and want it to last a little longer. But putting them in single-serving containers in the fridge is easy too.


Kelsey Carreon said...

My husband just started eating Irish oatmeal and loves it! My mom has been eating it for years and I think it is spectacular.

Just Katy said...

Brilliant idea! That stuff is delicious but takes FOREVER to cook. Nice solution.

Carol Younce said...

I once heard a Returned Missionary from Scotland say that with the oatmeal they had for breakfast over there, it was an " elevenses" too as they just had some water mid morning and found they were full again for a while. My fave topping would be your raspberry freezer jam! Fun to be you in the winter.

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