Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday's Twist: Slow Cooker Steel-Cut Oats

Tuesday's Twist:  A basic recipe with a fun twist.  In other words, just another excuse for me to play around with weird recipes I've been dying to try.

I think I still have a Thanksgiving food hangover.  So before I jump into my usual overkill of Christmas treats I figured some oatmeal was in order.  Somewhere along the line I bought a large bag of steel-cut oats. Why?  Hmmm, a good question.  I wish I remembered my exact plans for these little grains.  But alas, there they sit in the pantry, nearly untouched.

Steel-cut oats are oat grains that have been cut into 2 to 3 pieces rather than rolled and flattened into flakes. They retain a chewier texture than rolled oats and take between 20 to 40 minutes to cook (depending on you texture preference). Time has been the deal breaker thus far.  I just can't wait that long for breakfast.  So instead of 40 minutes at the stove, I threw them in the slow cooker to cook for 6 hours.  I know.

But the slow cooker requires no standing and stirring, waiting for that watched pot to boil.  I had leftover oranges and fresh cranberries from Thanksgiving and decided to try an orange-cranberry oatmeal.  It turned out about as bland as it looks, but that's just what I was in the mood for after all that Thanksgiving abundance.  Dried cranberries would add sweetness and orange juice concentrate might provide a deeper orange flavor.

Everyone likes their oatmeal a little different, so adjust to your liking.  This made a thick, creamy porridge slightly chewier than regular oatmeal.  Shorten the cooking time if you like a chewier, heartier texture.  Use more milk if you like it extra creamy.  Type and amount of sweetener is up to you as well.  I prefer my oats thin and watery as opposed to thick and creamy, but that's just me.

 I'll probably go with a different flavor next time, but I'll definitely be using my slow cooker for steel-cut oats.

Slow Cooker Orange-Cranberry Oats

1 cup steel-cut oats
3 cups water*
1 cup milk*
1 orange
1/2 cup fresh cranberries, roughly chopped
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
sweetener, to taste

* Use 4 cups of liquid total. I used 3 cups water and 1 cup milk.  The more milk you use the creamier your oats will be.  You could also try using orange juice for part of the liquid for a stronger orange flavor.

* Pour steel-cut oats, water and milk into slow cooker. Finely grate peel of orange and add to oats. Squeeze juice from orange into slow cooker. Stir in cranberries and salt.
* Cover and cook on low 5-6 hours. Stir well to combine. Stir in vanilla.  Sweeten to taste.

Food for Thought: "A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions." -Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. 

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