Monday, March 30, 2009

Mmmm! -- The Joy of Porridge

Oatmeal is the perfect breakfast food. It's got complex carbs, protein and it's loaded with fiber. There's no better way to start a chilly day than a steaming hot bowl of oatmeal.

I've found three types of oatmeal:
  1. Rolled oats.
  2. Steel cut "Irish" oats.
  3. Stone-ground "Scottish" oats.

You're probably familiar with rolled oats. Quaker rolled oats in some form or other are found in pantries around the country. Most Americans have started their day at least once under the beneficent gaze of the smiling Quaker. Rolled oats are made by steaming the whole oat kernel, rolling them flat, and then toasting them lightly.

Rolled oats are perfectly good. They are easy to prepare and have a delightfully creamy texture. They also make really good cookies.

Irish Oatmeal is not as common here. I've seen them sold under the name of "McCann's," "Coaches Oats," and Quaker. Steel cut oats are made by cutting the oat kernel. They take quite a bit longer to prepare because there is less starch exposed. The last pot of steel cut oats I made simmered on the stove for about 40 minutes before we could eat them. Steel cut oats have a nuttier texture and aren't nearly as creamy as rolled oats.

If you don't mind standing over the stove for a good part of the morning, I recommend you try steel cut oatmeal.

My favorite is Scottish oatmeal. It is made by doing a very rough grind of the oat kernels. I've bought Scottish oatmeal from Bob's Red Mill and in bulk at my neighborhood Winco. Scottish oatmeal combines the best qualities of rolled oats and steel cut oats. They cook much faster than steel cut oats while retaining some of the nutty texture and they are creamy like rolled oats.

Here is how I make my Scottish oatmeal.

3/4 cup milk

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup oats

a little salt

I combine the ingredients in a small saucepan and then simmer over low heat until it thickens. I like to flavor my oatmeal with Billington's Dark Brown Molasses Sugar and a little half and half.

Fry up some bacon and you have the perfect meal.


Sally said...

I'm thinking the bacon cancels out the benefits of the oatmeal.

TimB said...

You would be wrong. Everyone knows bacon makes everything better. Bacon is a nutrition enhancer. It heightens the benefit of the fiber and protein. Bacon is health food.

At least that's what I choose to believe.

Sara said...

I love Scottish oatmeal too. I'll have to try your way of making it. It sounds good!

Sally said...

I know. I love to eat bacon too...but not so sure of the health benefits.

brian said...

The oatmeal giveth; the bacon taketh away...

Epicureans 3:16

Judy said...

Tim- have you tried grinding your own oats? I wonder how that would work...

TimB said...

Judy - I've thought about it. Winco has groats that would work. Maybe after I use up my current batch of oats.

dean said...

I tried your recipe. I liked it, mom didn't. But then, she doesn't like any kind of oatmeal.