Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Overnight Irish Porridge

E-Z Overnight Irish Porridge
Every kid knows that The Three Bears ate porridge. But did you know that when we eat oatmeal for breakfast we're eating porridge too? Porridge is made from cooking cut, crushed, or rolled grains in water or milk until soft and creamy. And totally comforting. Why we refer to the ingredient and the finished preparation as the same thing, I just don't know. If I laid awake at night thinking about it (yep, did that), I would want a hot bowl of porridge the next morning to make me feel better. For my money though, I would want that porridge to be made from steel cut oats.

When I was a kid, my oatmeal generally came from a little packet that was mixed in a bowl with hot water. Healthy, maybe. But kind of lacking in the texture and flavor department. Goldilocks would have pronounced it to be "too boring!" (in that petulant little way that she has).

I first tried "Irish Oatmeal" way back in the olden days (mid-90's), and found the overnight directions inside the can of Mc Cann's Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal. I quickly became a steel-cut convert. I still love that iconic can, though my budget no longer allows it. And really, what's not to love about an old-fashioned looking (and reusable, I might add) tin that appears to have never changed in over a hundred years, the main declaration upon which is that they are the proud receivers of an award for "Uniformity Of Granulation"? I ask you.

Thankfully there are now budget-friendly steel cut oats in the bulk-bins at the grocery store. Perhaps they are not quite so uniform in their granulation, but they are plenty tasty. And we still have this dazzlingly easy short-cut method for cooking them. It serves four, so I always just refrigerate what we don't eat and re-heat it the next day.

Dazzlingly Easy "No-Cook" Shortcut Method For Steel Cut Oats

The night before:
Bring 2-1/2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan, add a pinch or two of salt and 1 cup of steel cut oats. Put lid on pot and turn off heat. Go to bed.*

In the morning: Give it a stir. Heat porridge over low-med heat, stirring almost constantly to avoid burning the bottom. Stir in a little cinnamon and serve with maple syrup or brown sugar, milk or cream, raisins, nuts, etc.** For an extra healthy breakfast, stir in a few tablespoons of ground flaxseed before serving.

Notes: A while back, Trader Joe's was selling Irish Oatmeal precooked and frozen in individual portions. So of course, I had to try making my own. It worked wonderfully. Just double the recipe and in the morning divide the cooked steel cut oats into single serve portions and freeze, then pop one into the microwave to reheat whenever you want. Couldn't be easier if it tried.

*I noticed while researching this, that the "new" easy method recommends refrigerating the pan of oatmeal overnight. I'm guessing that this change is due to potential food-safety issues. Definitely go with whatever method you will be most comfortable with.
**My favorite combination is: chopped dried apricots, shredded apple and pecans... with milk, brown sugar, and cinnamon, of course.
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