PERFECT OATMEAL 101 – Fear No Mush!
Oatmeal is admittedly a tricky dish. Don’t laugh, it’s true. Many of us may think that it is the “special” kind of oats that they use in quaint breakfast cafes that result in oatmeal perfection. The good news is: NO, they use ordinary oats, the same type available to you and I in any grocery store.
Now for the sake of this instruction, I am using 100% rolled oats ( NOT: quick oats, instant oats, or steel cut oats).
For 1 cup of dry oats, use 1 1/2 cups of water
1) First things first, boil 1 1/2 cups of water.
2) Add a dash of salt, or two dashes if you like.
3)Once water is in a ROLLING BOIL, add your 1 cup of dry oats.
4) Stir once, let it boil for 30 seconds, and then turn off the heat, put the lid on your pot, and remove from heat.
NOTE: you need a lid for this operation, so if you have a small sauce pan or pot, but no lid, use a plate, a cutting board, another pot or some other flat object to put on top of your hot pot to trap the steam and heat.
5) DO NOT STIR, DO NOT REMOVE THE LID. WAIT 5-7 MINUTES.
6) After you have waited AT LEAST 5 minutes, remove the lid, stir again ONCE, and let sit for another minute or two with the lid off.
7) Your oatmeal is now ready to serve. There are many things you can add to oatmeal to make it taste good. If you aren’t sure about what you like, I suggest trying the following combinations to get a taste of some of my favorites:
– THE CLASSIC: teaspoon of butter, 2 teaspoons of sugar or brown sugar, enough half and half or milk to make it whatever consistency you like. I like my oatmeal pretty dry, so I only use a couple tablespoons of half and half.
– THE CLASSIC PLUS CINNAMON: follow instructions for the classic, and add a sprinkle of cinnamon. Be careful, as cinnamon is deceptively strong, and even a bit too much can ruin a good bowl of oatmeal. Start slow, add more if you need more.
– NUTS and BERRIES: my usual favorite (as photographed). I enjoy a handful of dried cranberries (raisins work too), some sugar ( I won’t divulge how much … 😉 ), some half and half, a little butter, and a handful of sliced almonds. This is like a four course meal in a bowl. Let’s see we have fruit, nuts, grains, sugar, fat, dairy, protein, fiber — yep, it’s all in there.
– APPLES, and the like: you can easily dice some apples, just cut a few slices, and then chop the slices into 1/2 inch chunks and throw on top, always tasty. Bananas work too.
A FEW THINGS TO REMEMBER:
– Stirring oatmeal excessively makes it mushy and far less appetizing. Resist the urge to stir other than once at the very beginning, and once again at the very end. So in this example, EXCESSIVELY = more than twice.
– You want to control the consistency of oatmeal by way of adding to it once it is cooked and in your bowl. NOT by adding more water to your boil. You want to retain the oats’ texture by cooking it properly. So if you want more liquid add more milk, or even some hot water, but do this AFTER the oatmeal is cooked, and in your bowl.
– Because I believe in free will and doing things the way you enjoy them, if you really enjoy mushy oatmeal, and a lot of oatmeal “juice” in your bowl, this is okay too, and this is easy to accomplish by adding lots of extra water to your pot, at least an extra cup, and stirring frequently while it cooks. This will assure perfect soupy, mushy oatmeal every time.
– Lastly, I have included a link to a site that will shed some light on the various types of oats available. I think we have all heard enough about steel cut oats, and this link gives good information on the matter. I will say, for the sake of our discussion here today, that steel cut oats taste great too, and are a little heartier, they do take a little longer to cook and are a bit more expensive. I don’t find enough of a difference in the finished product to spend the extra time or money, but that is a judgment call for your own lifestyle.
( Following excerpt from http://nutritiondiva.quickanddirtytips.com/are-steel-cut-oats-healthier.aspx )What’s the Difference Between Steel Cut and Regular Oats? First, a quick guide to how different types of oat cereals are produced: Oat groats: All types of oat cereals start out as groats, which are hulled, toasted oat grains. (Removing the hull doesn’t remove the bran, by the way.) Steel-cut (Irish) oats: These are the least processed type of oat cereal. The toasted oat groats are simply chopped into chunks about the size of a sesame seed. Stone-ground (Scottish) oats: These are the same as Irish oats but they are ground into smaller pieces, closer to the size of a poppy seed. Both Irish and Scottish oats have to be cooked before you eat them. Irish oats take about 45 minutes to cook, Scottish oats about half that long (because they are smaller). Old-fashioned rolled oats: These are made by steaming the toasted groats and then running them between rollers to create flakes. Rolled oats can be eaten as is or cooked into oatmeal (it takes about ten minutes). Quick-cooking oats: These are simply rolled into thinner flakes, so they cook a little faster. Instant oats: These are the most heavily processed. The groats have been chopped fine, flattened, pre-cooked, and dehydrated. Instant oatmeal usually has added salt and sugar. I suggest leaving the instant oats on the shelf. In the time it takes you to boil the water to make instant oatmeal, you can cook some old-fashioned oats in the microwave.