Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Steel-Cut Oats in Under 20 Minutes (3 Minutes Active)

Awhile back, I got really excited about Steel-Cut Oats (aka Scottish Oats or Groats).  I even went so far as to turn them into a delicious Risotto (or Pilaf).  However, one thing I haven't been able to do is get around the fact that steel-cut oats take 30+ minutes and "they're done when they're done."  Let's face it.  In the mornings, who's got 30 minutes to spare?  Not yours truly.

Well guess what?  I think I finally cracked the code.  And you guessed it--It involves my beloved pressure cooker.  It took me awhile to get the recipe just right (you'd be surprised at the variety of methods and proportions out there on the Internet), but I think I have something that works consistently and it's time to share it with you!

Steel-Cut Oats in the Pressure Cooker
(Active Cooking Time: About 3 Minutes, give or take)

1 cup Steel-cut (Scottish) Oats
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter

Important Notes: Though it may be tempting, don't go and remove the butter from this recipe--It's not there for flavor.  The fat actually breaks the surface tension of the water and prevents the starch from launching through the vent pipe and spilling all over the pot and the stove.  If the thought of a tablespoon of butter still makes your arteries clog, use an equal amount of vegetable oil.

If you're used to putting dairy in your oatmeal, add it after cooking (a dash of half and half is quite nice).  I learned the hard way that milk will foam up and out the vent spout faster than you'd think.  You could, however, substitute apple juice for some of the water and it'd probably make a flavorful oatmeal that doesn't require a lot of added sugar.

1) Place all the ingredients into the pressure cooker.  Lid it up, attach your pressure regulator, and set it on the stove cranked to high.

2) Heat the pressure cooker until it reaches full pressure (15 psi).  Refer to your cooker's user manual.

3) Immediately reduce the heat to the bare minimum needed to maintain pressure (usually 2 or 3 on the dial).  Set a timer for 15 minutes.  It's important to use as low a temperature as you can, else you'll exhaust all the water and fuse the starchy oats to the bottom of the pot.  You can do other things during this time (like get ready for work), provided you peek at the stove every now and then to make sure the cooker is not redecorating the kitchen.

4) When time is up, quick release the pressure using the cold water method or a quick release valve if your pot is equipped with one.  Immediately stir the finished oatmeal, lightly scraping the bottom and breaking-up any clumps.

5) Oatmeal can sit, covered for 5-10 minutes and reheats well in the microwave.  Add sweetener (maple syrup, brown sugar, etc.) and fresh or dried fruit to taste.  Cinnamon also works very well.  Oatmeal refrigerates and freezes well if divided into individual servings.

Makes About 4 1-cup servings.

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