Pro Tip: Why You Should Cook your Oatmeal like Risotto
Oatmeal is a solid go to breakfast. It can be quick (instant in fact) or can be a longer morning affair (enter steel cut oats). Regardless of your preference, oatmeal is comforting, delicious and hearty enough to get your day going. Plus, the flavour combinations are endless. Here's my problem though- I really think we're cooking it wrong.
It dawned on me one particularly busy morning that if I simply moved my oatmeal to a wider sauce pan, instead of the usual tiny pot I use, it might cook faster. I was right. I employ this method when cooking risotto for more even cooking and better textured grains. When you're cooking any grain in a taller pot, there is inevitably more stirring involved to distribute the heat (unless it's a grain like rice that you don't want to touch as it cooks). The grains on the bottom are more prone to a mushy texture while the ones on top might be undercooked. As you stir to distribute heat better, you risk breaking the starch granules, again, leading to mushy textures. The solution: a wider and lower pan, where one swift swipe of a spoon can be enough to mix whatever you're adding.
The other helpful time saver in the morning is to soak steel cut oats overnight in water. Rolled or instant oats don't need this step because they're already smaller in size.
Here are some of the (many, many) things you will find in my oatmeal:
- Milk: it's creamier, more flavourful and more filling this way. Just be careful not to scorch the milk as you cook it because milk can and will burn. Avoid a rapid boil when cooking.
- Fruit: my favourite is mashing up a super ripe banana and mixing it all through. Roasted apples (from leftover sad apples that have lost their crunch) give an apple pie vibe, while dried fruits turn jammy. In the summer I keep berry compotes on hand and I'll swirl that through just at the end. I don't love when berries turn my oats pink so I never cook them together but that is really just preference. So many options here!
- Nut Butters: a drizzle of peanut or almond butter goes a long way here. When I'm feeling extra, I drizzle Fatso salted caramel peanut butter and it makes for a special morning.
- Seeds: chia seeds, hemp seeds, ground flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds- all fun options for good fats and fibre to keep you full and keep that system moving.
- Spices: vanilla extract, cinnamon, cardamom (just crack the pod and throw it in, find it later), nutmeg, sometimes ginger depending on how spicy I'm feeling. These are all great way to add extra warmth and flavour without relying solely on sweeteners.
I hope this provides some inspiration to treat your oats with the TLC typically reserved for more seemingly special dishes like risotto. So brew some coffee and get some oats on the stove, because breakfast needs love too!