"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Old-School Steel-Cut Oats

by Julie on January 27, 2014

in Delicious Books, Breakfast

More than 20 years ago, late in the 20th century, my friend Stacy and I would meet on Sundays at a little diner just off Grammercy Park in NYC. Oftentimes there’d be a wait. Sometimes a really long wait. But that was expected. They served a porridge that was entirely worth it.

More than just tasty. This porridge was soul-nourishing. Creamy and filling and warm. We were only too willing to stand there in the freezing cold, two girls from Southern California who didn’t understand the value of a woolen hat.

Just this weekend I discovered a way to make porridge that tastes like that porridge.

steel-cut oats

Well worth the wait

This comes from Megan Gordan’s new cookbook, Whole-Grain Mornings (which anybody who loves me can gift me anytime, just sayin’…) about which Molly at Orangette waxed passionate about. That’s where I first stumbled on it.

You start with steel-cut oats. Yes, the kind that take half an hour to cook and force you to have an early 20th century-style breakfast. Pour some tea and pick up the paper and calm down.

The ingredients are: 1 cup steel-cut oats, 1 tbsp unsalted butter, 3 1/4 cup water, 1 cup whole milk, 1 tbsp cane sugar, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt.

Here’s the secret (you toast the oats in butter first.)

toasted steel-cut oats

Toast the dry oats in butter first

Lightly toast until your house smells like a TV Christmas Day Special at Grandma’s. You’ll know it when you smell it. Your kids will run in and demand to know what you’re baking.

steel-cut oats

set aside for later

NEXT! You bring 1 cup of milk and 3 1/4 cups of water slowly to a boil.  Add your toasted oats.

stirring for porridge

Stir it up

Partially covered, keep an eye on it and stir occasionally until the oats are cooked, anywhere between 20-30 minutes. It will still be a bit wet, but let it sit for 5 minutes or so, still partially covered, and it will continue to cook.

What? Did you have somewhere to be this morning?

Well OK then. Breakfast, she is served:

steal cut oatmeal from Whole Grain Mornings

Good morning!

Tart up with maple syrup (the real stuff, thank you.) or brown sugar, and whatever fruits or nuts you happen to fancy.  This would be excellent with walnuts, but who can afford those anymore? Megan also apparently uses vanilla and raisins in hers. Nom.

It is awesome. I’ve made this twice already.

Stacy’s still in NYC, (well, Brooklyn). Still freezing. But at least she knows a lot more about warm outerwear these days.  As a famous writer, she very much appreciates the lifestyles of the rich and famous in the early 20th century. She’ll probably appreciate this porridge, too.





{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bruce January 28, 2014 at 8:04 am

I love this! Old school porridge is one of George’s favorite things in the world!

Also, as weird as this sounds, it refrigerates well. When it cools, it hardens into a solid block of polenta-y oatmeal goodness. You can cut the block into smaller squares, stick them in a tupperware, and dole them out as needed for breakfasts. To serve, add milk, microwave for a minute, and break up. Or, alternately, just eat them straight for a weird sort of oatmeal sushi experience.


Julie January 28, 2014 at 8:18 am

That’s why I love you, Bruce. You always up the ante so deliciously!


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