After fiddling with cooking times, temperatures, and ratios, we've finally landed on what we think of as the perfect method for making a pot of steel-cut oats. It's about time, too, since we have plenty of frigid winter mornings left to go and we'll need a steady supply of oatmeal to keep us going!
Our favorite method starts off with a ratio of 3 cups of water to 1 cup of steel-cut oats. This is less water than the directions on the canister of oats says, but we found that the grains stay more intact with less water - which we like! If you think that the oatmeal gets too stiff during cooking, a little more water or (even better) milk stirred in at the end makes it just right.
We bring the water to a boil and then stir in the steel-cut oats along with a healthy pinch of salt (this sounds strange, but it brings out the nutty flavor in the oats). We let the water and oats come back to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium-low.
We simmer the oats, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes, depending on how cooked or chewy we want our oats that day. Give it a stir every few minutes to make sure the bottom isn't burning. If a skin forms on top of the oatmeal, we just stir it back into the oats and keep cooking. We start tasting spoonfuls after the 20 minute mark and take it off the heat when we like what we taste.
Personally, we like to leave the oatmeal plain and let each person add whatever extras they like. We sweeten our bowl with a spoonful of honey or maple syrup and stir in a splash of milk for creaminess. We also like both fresh fruit and dried fruit, as well as a sprinkling of crunchy toasted nuts! A pinch of cinnamon finishes it off quite nicely.
Leftover oatmeal can also be refrigerated for up to a week, so it's nice to make a big batch on the weekend to have for breakfast all week long. It will firm up and gelatinize in the fridge, but then soften again in the microwave. We heat it for a minute on high, then stir in some milk and other toppings before heating it another minute.
What's your method for steel-cut oats?
Perfect Steel-Cut Oats
serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are!
3 cups water
1 cup steel-cut oats
pinch of salt
Bring the water to a boil and stir in the oats and salt. Let the water and oats come back to a boil then reduce to medium-low heat.
Let the oats simmer with the lid slightly ajar, stirring frequently until cooked through - 20 minutes for chewy oats or 30 minutes for softer oats.
Stir in extras like milk, sweeteners, nuts, and fruit off the heat in individual bowls. Leftovers keep for one week.