Monday, October 29, 2007

Steel Cut Oats

It's official. Yesterday in recognition of the cooler weather settling in I replaced the usual granola in a client's breakfast with steel cut oats.

This whole grain cereal may be one of the healthiest foods on the planet, but I like it particularly for the nutty texture. Still, many consumers have never heard of steel cut oats, sometimes labeld "oat groats."

More popular are the ubiquitous rolled oats, which are oat grains hulled, then pushed through steel rollers to flatten them. For instant oatmeal, the grains are first cooked, then rolled out super-thin. Steel-cut oats, on the other hand, start with the whole grain--meaning the unadulterated bran, germ and endosperm, where all the nutrition is--then are cut into small pieces with steel blades and left unrolled so they look like little nubs of brown rice.

A single serving, or 1/4 cup dry, of steel-cut oats contains 150 calories, no sodium, very little fat, and plenty of dietary fiber.

Oats grow especially well in the cool moist climates of of the British Isles. Not surprisingly, oat porridge is practically the national dish of the Scotts. In this country the steel-cut variety is available from Quaker Oats and others, notably the McCann's company, which packs its product in a metal container with a distinctively old-fashioned and classy looking label. But you can also buy steel-cut oats in bulk at health food stores and groceries such as Whole Foods.

As you might imagine, the cooking time for steel-cut oats is longer than what you may be used to if your only experience is with rolled oats. Some recipes call for several hours of cooking to achieve a really creamy porridge. I recently saw a blog post recommending cooking steel-cut oats in a slow cooker with dried fruits. Apparently you can also prepare them in a rice cooker. Mine usually simmer on the stove for about an hour.

You can cook steel-cut oats in milk or in salted water. One method recommended by McCann's is to soak the oats overnight. Bring four cups water to boil, add one cup steel-cut oats and stir until the water is absorbed. Leave to soak overnight, then bring the cereal back to a boil in the morning and cook until tender.

A better breakfast than cooked outs with some raisins, chopped walnuts and brown sugar is hard for me to imagine.

39 comments:

Joanna said...

This is what we in the UK call pinhead oats. They make the very best porridge, cooked at very low temperature overnight - in an Aga's slow oven, or in a slow cooker. Lovely - and good to have all this information about them (although they are really only grown in the north of the British Isles, and especially in Scotland - despite being small, our climate is variable, although without the extremes of the US)

I think I'll make some tonight - as you say, it's that time of year

Joanna

Janet said...

I'm confused. You said, "Steel-cut oats, on the other hand, start with the whole grain--meaning the unadulterated bran, germ and endosperm...." I thought old-fashioned rolled had the bran, germ and endosperm, too. Did I miss something?

Ed Bruske said...

Joanna, I love the name you have for these oats and I would love an update on your favorite method of cooking them if you have a chance. I also understand you can put these oats in soups and other dishes, although I've never tried it.

Sorry, Janet, I did not mean to imply that the rolled oats are anything but whole grains. They also have the bran, germ and endosperm, just flattened out so they cook faster instead of in the original form.

Maureen said...

I am curious about what you mean by substituting the oats for granola, esp for a client.

Did you mean you cook the oats and then use the cooked dish as a granola substitute, say with yoghurt and fruit? Or did you mean you served the cooked oats instead of serving granola?

Sorry if these seems nitpicky but I eat cold yoghurt and granola along with fruit in the summer but oatmeal with maple syrup in the winter. I've just purchase steel cut oats and am ready to mush on!

Ed Bruske said...

Maureen, The client gets granola with yogurt & berries in the warm months, and steel-cut oats with milk and berries in the cold months.

Anonymous said...

Nancy said:
Does anyone have a recipe for oatmeal cookies using steel cut oats (pinhead oats)? Do the oats need to be cooked a little bit first? I'd love to try this, but want to know if others have tried it successfully.....

CandCFamily said...

That sounds so good, I need to break out the crock pot and finally try to make the crock pot version.

Christina said...

You mentioned cooking steel cut oats in the rice cooker.
Do you have an actual ratio of oats to water for this?
Or is it the same ratio you would use if cooking on the stove top?
Do you know what the cooking time might be for this method?
I'm dying to try this at home!
Especially if it means I can throw it all in the rice cooker when I get up in the morning and have something quick and easy that is ready for everyone before they pile out the door on a cold winter morning.

Ed Bruske said...

Christina, I do not own a rice cooker and I have never tried cooking steel cut oats either in a rice cooker or a crock pot. But it shouldn't be too hard. Experiment!

Briana said...

If you have a fuzzy logic rice cooker (I recommend Zojirushi), it should have a porridge cycle. Just put in 2/3 cups steel-cut oats, 1 3/4 cup whole milk, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 tbsp maple syrup, a pinch of salt, and 1-1.5 tsp cinnamon. Stir it up, put it on the porridge cycle and it will cook up about 2 servings in a little less than an hour.

Carol said...

Last night, for the first time, I put 1 cup steel-cut oats in my small 2-3 qt. slow cooker with 3 1/2 cups 1% milk and about 1/4 cup raisins. Cooking it on low it was ready for my husband's 6:30 breakfast and I had it one hour later. We added brown sugar, milk and nuts. So good and there are at least 4 more servings in the refrig. I understand it will reheat easily. Thanks to all who provide input for those of us who are new to this form of oats.

Judy said...

For a single serving I bring 1 cup of salted water to a boil, add 3 heaping tbsp. of steel cut oats and 1 heaping tsp. of soya grits and cook for 6 min. Serve with brown sugar, ground flax and cranberries/raisins and milk. Breakfast cooks while I finish getting ready for work. My RMT says it's a full protein breakfast with all food groups included. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

I cook these in a crock pot on low over night. Wake up and it's ready! About 4-6 hours in a 3qt pot (1 cup oats & 4 cups water)-- Julia

Judy said...

Steel cut oats are WONDERFUL using 4 cups apple juice instead of water. Add 1 cup oats and crock pot overnight for a healthy, delicious breakfast. This is half recipe but good for one person for a few breakfasts as it heats up well in the microwave. Add some ground flax seed for an even healthier dish!

Tina said...

I just discovered steel-cut oats. For years, every morning I eat a bowl of UNCOOKED quick oats. It's about like eating granola. Now I eat half quick oats and half steel-cut oats, UNCOOKED. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon, frozen blueberries if I have them, and milk. Wonderful for people who like nutty textures!

TechnologyFool said...

I would suggest to anyone who wants to make this part of your regular diet going out and buying a Asian rice cooker with a programmable timer. They can be kind of pricey, upwards of a $100 but in the long run it will be a spectacular investment. I set mine rice cooker to go off at 7:00 AM with perfectly cooked steel cut oats inside. It comes out with a creamy consistency that resembles cream but I all I have added is water. I think people don't eat steel cut oats because it takes like 30 minutes to cook while constantly needing stirring and monitoring. With a programmable rice cooker you have your perfectly cooked steel cut oats when you wake up. Oh I am sorry I forgot to mention you should find a programmable rice cooker with a porridge button.

Bette said...

Hi!
Here is a recipe I want to substitute steel cut oats for. Does anyone have a suggestion on how to prep the oats for use in baking? For instance can they be soaked in apple juice overnight or in the maple syrup?
Thanks
Brooke

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unslated butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups oatmeal(not quick cooking)
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

chelsi said...

I have a fabulous recipe for steel cut oat cookies. It was featured in either bon appetit or real simple...i cant remember which...Dark chocolate oatmeal cookies
3/4c flour
1/4c cocoa powder
1/2tsp baking soda
1/4tsp salt
1 stick rm temp butter
1/2c sugar
2tbsp steel cut oats
1/4c choc chips
350degrees
mix flour, cocoa, salt, soda, and beat in butter until fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla. add flour...mix will be clumpy. Mix in oats...and choc chips and knead. Roll dough into small balls and flatten on cookie sheet.
cook about 14min until center is slightly firm and top cracked...makes about 12

Anonymous said...

Hi I just found out I have a sensitivy to gluten. Does anyone know if steel cut oats are gluten free?

Anonymous said...

quote: "Hi I just found out I have a sensitivy to gluten. Does anyone know if steel cut oats are gluten free?"

I think it probably depends on the nature of your sensitivity:

'While oats do not appear to naturally contain gluten, they can become contaminated during harvesting, transporting, milling and processing.'

'All celiac organizations in the United States currently advise against eating oats -- in addition to wheat, barley, and rye -- just to be on the safe side.'

(http://news.healingwell.com/index.php?p=news1&id=522133)

Aaron said...

Here is a producer in my local area: http://www.bobsredmill.com/home.php?cat=123

-Aaron

Owlfarmer said...

Thanks for a helpful article. I was looking for information on steel cut oats to include in a post on Robert Burns and haggis today on my Cabinet of Wonders blog, and yours was perfect. Not only that, but I love the focus, the philosophy, and the the links. I'll back for more as often as I can.

Ed Bruske said...

OF, thanks for the kind words. Please drop by anytime.

Owlfarmer said...

Thanks, Ed. After looking through the blog some more, I added you to my "Education of Desire: Food" blogroll on Owl's Farm. Hope that's ok. I'm really enjoying what you folks are doing.

Ed Bruske said...

OF,always a pleasure. Glad to see you writing about global warming and such.

Michael said...

My health food store(Vitamin Cottage) has a recipe for crock pot porridge.
2 cups Water
2 cups milk (cow, nut, rice, or soy)
4 tablespoons honey. (I use agave)
i tspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon vanilla or maple extract
2 apples grated
1 cup sunflower seeds or walnut pieces

Use non stick spay inside crock pot. Combine ingredients, cover, cook on low overnight (no more than 8 hours) Serve with nuts and/or honey (agave) on top. This recipe keeps in the refrigerator. Heat leftovers with a little water added.

Michael said...

My health food store(Vitamin Cottage) has a recipe for crock pot porridge.
2 cups Water
2 cups milk (cow, nut, rice, or soy)
1 cup steel cut oats
4 tablespoons honey. (I use agave)
i tspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon vanilla or maple extract
2 apples grated
1 cup sunflower seeds or walnut pieces

Use non stick spay inside crock pot. Combine ingredients, cover, cook on low overnight (no more than 8 hours) Serve with nuts and/or honey (agave) on top. This recipe keeps in the refrigerator. Heat leftovers with a little water added.

Ohbladee said...

Check out this blog where she has pictures & describes how to use the slow cooker as a bain-marie, which eliminates soaking/scrubbing/waste...

laviedemilie said...

Hello

I know that 1/4 c of steel cut oats dry is one serving of the grain. Does 1/4 c cooked become 1/2 c or 1 whole cup?

Thank you

Cheri said...

This is the first time I have ever heard of steel cut oatmeal. Can it be used uncooked - like in granola? If so, does anyone have a recipe for that?

Ed Bruske said...

Cheri, you would probably break a tooth trying to eat steel-cut oats raw. No, it's meant to be cooked for as a porridge.

Dwight said...

I love RAW steel cut oats. Do not eat it any other way. I eat it as a snack, rather than for breakfast. I consider it relatively soft, and much more flavorful raw than cooked.
Dwight

Ed Bruske said...

Dwight, hereafter we will refer to you as "Jaws."

Shanna said...

I just bought steel cut oats for the first time and found you by doing a Google search on how to cook them ;) Great information here, thank you!!

Kiara said...

Steel cut oats are the best cold weather breakfast ever!

Your blog and comments are very interesting and informative. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I read elsewhere that you can reduce cooking time for steel cut oats by baking them for 20 min at 325 deg. It works well and increases the nutty flavor.

Anonymous said...

I make my oats in the crockpot for 6-7 hours on low. One cup oats four cups water. I add one tbsp. ground flax seed,one tbsp. wheatgerm, one tbsp. raw pumpkin seeds, one tbsp. honey, and a few raisins. Sometimes I add cinnamon sugar.

DJ said...

I cook my morning steel-cut oats in a small rice cooker, often with frozen berries. I use neither salt nor sugar. When the oats are cooked, I mix in half to one cup of low-fat yogurt and a sliced banana. Delicious and nutritious.

Danielle said...

Just came back from Miami where Steel Cut Oatmeal is on the menu of most hotels. Always loved porridge slightly undercooked, and love rough Scottish oatcakes, so thought I would give this a try. Ate it every morning thereafter! And it keeps you feeling full (but not stuffed) for ages. So creamy and yummy, and of course a little soft brown sugar and some banana does not go astray. No back in the uk, and happy to find all your advice on how to cook it. I also have a steaming machine, so I'm going to try cooking it in that.
Now back in the UK where the weather demands some porridge. Trying to find it an order it. Amazon.co.uk carries mccanns, as does goodnessdirect.co.uk. All the best to steel cut oatmeal lovers. Danielle