Real Food: Steel Cut Oats

by Anne Bennett on October 25, 2009

quaker-oatsOatmeal is famous for being a stick-to-the-ribs breakfast, but many of us are microwaving instant packets and then scurrying out the door, only to be broadsided by hunger pangs at 10:30 am, long before lunch. What’s the deal?

Here’s what’s going on: instant oats are processed into little bits that cook quickly. Because they digest more quickly, they’re higher on the glycemic index than regular oats and they don’t keep you satisfied quite as long. Old-fashioned oatmeal, or rolled oats, take longer to cook but are more filling because they have more fiber and are less-processed. It’s a trade-off between time and satiety.

And here’s yet another option: steel cut oats, which are favored in Ireland as the only way to eat oatmeal. Unlike old fashioned oats, in which the oat kernels are flattened into flakes with rollers, steel cut oats are cut into chunks with steel blades. They require longer cooking still, up to 30 minutes, and that’s more time than most Americans will tolerate for preparing breakfast (but have you ever considered how long you sit in your car in the drive-thru lanes awaiting an Egg McMuffin or a Starbuck latte?).

But steel cut oats are so worth it, utterly filling and delicious and the nuttiest tasting member of the oat family. Here is a way to prepare them that requires less effort and delivers both great taste and convenience. You boil water and oats for one minute the night before, let them stand covered overnight and then finish cooking them the next morning.  If you’re really pinched for time on weekday mornings, cook them on Sunday and refrigerate the leftovers for the upcoming week, microwaving  individual servings each morning. That’s what I do and they taste just like new.

1 1/2 cups steel cut oats
6 cups water
big pinch salt

Bring water to a boil in a 2 qt. saucepan and add oats and salt. Boil for one minute, then turn off the heat, cover the pan and leave overnight. The next morning, remove lid, bring to a simmer and cook until done, about 10 minutes.

You can also cut back on the total quantity, but keep the oats-water ratio at 1/2 cup oats to 2 cups water.

Serves: 6

WW Points per serving: 2 (without milk, brown sugar or maple syrup, raisins, banana, almonds, you get the picture!)

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda October 26, 2009 at 4:57 am

Thanks, Anne! We’ve been really enjoying the steel-cut oats for breakfast…and it’s terrific to have a quicker option for getting them on the table in the morning.

Denise October 27, 2009 at 11:02 am

I have been hearing about the steel cut oatmeal for awhile now. Oprah eats it! And thanks to you, now I do too. Very good and filling. Love your website Ann.

Susan Cox November 15, 2009 at 7:52 am

Hi Anne, I really enjoyed your article about the Steel Cut Oats. I have never seen them in local markets. Do you know where they can be found? I like to shop at our local natural food co-op store, perhaps they will have it there. I sometimes shop at Safeway, but I’ve never seem them there. Thanks

Jody G. January 6, 2012 at 12:23 am

Hi Anne. This is how I’ve been making steel cut oats. I combined several techniques I had seen on the internet and they are SO easy and perfect every time. I make them in a crock pot! BUT if you just put them in the crock pot, you end up with a crust around the edge the next morning. So…

I have a heavy glass bowl that is 7″ diameter x 3″ high, so it just fits into my crockpot with about 1/2– 1″ space around the edge. I wad up 4 pieces of aluminum foil into balls to act as feet so the glass isn’t sitting on the bottom of the crock pot. Then lay the glass bowl in the crock pot.

Into the bowl, put 1 cup of steel cut oats and 4 cups of water, plus a little salt. Stir. The oatmeal will stay on the bottom, but don’t worry about it. Pour some water into the space between the bowl and the sides of the crock pot so it comes up about halfway — maybe 2 cups or so.

Turn crock pot on low and go to bed. In the morning, a beautiful, succulent, homogenous, plump bowl of steel cut oats (without a dry edge) will be waiting for you!

Jody G. January 6, 2012 at 12:25 am

Addendum to my previous post:

Put the lid on the crock pot overnight. Do not put any covering on the bowl that is inside the crockpot.

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