Saturday, June 13, 2009

June 7-15, 2009: Steel-cut oats

Last winter I tried my hand at porridge. This winter I've graduated to porridge using steel-cut oats. If you're not acquainted with steel-cut oats then read these posts by VeganYumYum and FatFree Vegan Kitchen - this is where I first discovered them. Then I discovered 'em in the flesh (or grain, rather) at Habib Wholefoods on Flinders St over summer.

Initially I thought that this breakfast would suck up as much time and money as it does water. Organic groceries are rarely cheap, especially on Flinders St, and these oats take longer to cook than their rolled rivals. But I've learned that I want only a 1/4 cup of oats each morning, making them much cheaper than the Kellogg's stuff I usually buy, and they cook in the time it takes me to shower. Best of all, they sustain me until lunch time like nothing else.

I guess what sets steel-cut oats apart from the regular kind is the texture. There's a real substance to them, something you can sink your teeth into, as well as that comforting sludginess. I've been cooking them up with orange juice, water and a few spices before stirring dried cranberries and blanched almonds through at the end. Except for this morning, when I used rice milk and the last of some apple-pear crumble:

I've got my eye on the leftover dried figs and walnuts in the cupboard, too.

Steel-cut oat porridge
(based on recipe proportions at FatFree Vegan Kitchen)
makes 2 Cindy-sized serves

1/2 cup steel-cut oats
1 cup water
1 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice
1/4 cup blanched almonds
2 tablespoons dried cranberries

In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together the oats, water, juice, salt, cinnamon and Chinese five spice. Bring the mixture to the boil then reduce the heat to very low, cover the pot and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the oats. SusanV estimates 30-45 minutes, but mine have taken as little as 20 minutes, so keep an eye on them.

Take the porridge off the heat, stir through the almonds and cranberries and serve the porridge in bowls.


  1. That 5 spice powder has got me curious. Sounds really interesting.

    I find soaking oats overnight helps to cut down on cooking time or adding boiling water, lid on and steam in its own heat for 5-10 minutes before putting it on the stove to cook.

    I always use a heat diffuser mat on my gas cooktop now. Cuts down on the stirring and stops it from catching on the bottom of the pot.

  2. cindy this sounds great. I have a pack of these that are getting a bit neglected after a few initial impatient tries - but I like the sound of your recipe, especially with the spices and the juice. yum!

  3. am always curious about steel cut oats - and thanks for the reminder of flinders organics - have run out of a few of my health food store essentials and was looking for a health food store in the city recently and couldn't remember where there was one

  4. Thanks all!

    AOF, I knew you'd be all over optimal grain cooking. :-) Use the 5-spice with a light hand, it's not going to be to everyone's taste in this dish.

  5. Haha. I love "makes 2 Cindy-sized serves", and the oats look like they'd be really satisfying to eat. What a cool idea.

  6. Thanks, Cathy! I thought I'd add that size warning since Michael would never consider this enough breakfast. :-)