Pressure-cooked oatmeal

Until now, I have always made oatmeal exclusively with rolled oats; although I know connoisseurs swear by the steel-cut variety, it always seemed like too much of a time investment for a breakfast food. (And yes, I know I’m saying this as someone who has cooked his own English muffins for eggs Benedict.)

But if you could shave off some of that time factor, who wouldn’t be interested in what could potentially be a better breakfast?

I came across this idea in VOLT ink., where it’s presented as a savoury dish with mushrooms and beer: pressure-cooking the oats. Instead of standing over a pot stirring for nearly half an hour, you just put the oats in a bowl, cover them with a measured amount of water, put some water in the bottom of your pressure cooker and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. I was intrigued.

So I tried it out for breakfast one morning. I put half a cup of steel-cut Irish oats, two cups of water, a handful of raisins and a pinch of salt in a stainless steel bowl, set that bowl on a trivet in my pressure cooker, and filled the pressure cooker itself with water until it came halfway up the sides of the bowl. Brought it up to high pressure and cooked for five minutes, then let the pressure dissipate naturally.

I quickly learned two things. First, it takes a steady hand and good side towel to get a stainless steel bowl full of hot oatmeal out of a pressure cooker full of near-boiling water. Second, the process doesn’t actually save you any time once you factor in how long it takes to come up to pressure and then back down again. That’s not to say there are no benefits: if you have the time, pressure-cooking at least saves you from standing over the pot stirring, since the oats can’t scorch when cooked this way. Set it, as they say, and forget it.

The results of my first batch weren’t what I’d been hoping for, however. While the oatmeal was tasty, especially with a sprinkling of coarsely chopped walnuts and a drizzle of good maple syrup, the texture was too loose and the oats were too chewy. So I tried again another day, backing off the water to 1.75 cups for half a cup of oats and raising the cooking time to 7 minutes. This time, I liked the end result much better, and it’s what I’ll be using for these oats from now on.

How do you cook your steel-cut oats?

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