Oats, glorious, oats!
What a terrific source of required carbohydrates, fiber, flavor, and protein. It is my preferred foundation for breakfast because of it’s flavor and nutritious properties.
Below: Steel cut oats, before cooking. Hard and inedible.
Oats have loads of fiber, protein, and iron. They are scientifically proven to reduce cholesterol levels. The fiber in oatmeal slows the breakdown of food with your meal and allows more nutrients to be absorbed and stabilizes blood sugar levels.
Steel Cut Oats vs. Rolled Oats vs. Instant Oats
I read another blog post about steel cut oats, which claimed that steel cut oats were nutritionally the same as rolled oats. It is true that rolled oats and steel cut oats are chemically the same. Rolled oats and steel cut oats start out as whole oat groats. The groats are cut into big chunks to form steel cut oats. Groats are steamed, then rolled flat, then dried to form rolled oats. Chemically, they are same-same.
However, rolled oats are smaller and denser. They are slightly more processed. Steel-cut oats take a bit longer to chew and have more flavor, so they take longer to eat and you tend to spend more time enjoying them. So you eat less, you get more water intake because of the reduced processing, and you enjoy your meal more.
Side note on instant oatmeal: When you eat instant oatmeal, you get the extreme opposite version of these phenomena: pasty and flavorless, shovel ready for your mouth, or to fill small cracks in your walls. This is why you can eat steel cut oats or rolled outs without any sugar, but instant oats require a bucket of sugar to be palatable — they are completely devoid of taste. They are more energy dense when cooked and have no taste, so you cram them into your mouth indiscriminately. Before you know it, you’re stuffed with over-milled oat starch. Still, it’s better than some alternatives, but choose the more intact grains when you can.
Just for kicks, I tried three methods of cooking the oats.
- Pressure cooker
- Pressure cooker with inside pan
- Overnight soak in heated water
Pressure Cooker Method
I found this method to produce a burnt crust on the bottom of the pan, and it affected the flavor of some of the oats. It wasn’t terribly hard to clean with my friend, Mr. Steel Wool. In general, though, it works fine.
Below: Steel cut oats in water BEFORE rinsing. The oats have a lot of fine particles that come off during harvesting and packaging which are best rinsed off.
Below: After two rinsings, you can tell the water is clearer.
Below: The charred effects of pressure cooking without an inner pan. It could be that a heat diffuser may help eliminate this problem. Anyone have experience with this?
Pressure Cooker with Inside Pan
This method produced a less-burnt crust on the bottom of the cooker, but it was still burnt. The oats inside the inner pan, however, were burn-free and there was no off-putting flavor of carbonized oat matter. Yum!
Below: The inside pan does not lead to any burnt oats, although there was a crust on the bottom of the pressure cooker from oats that spilled out of the inner pan.
Overnight Soak Method
I found this recipe on the web:
1-1/2 cups steel-cut oats
6 cups cold water
Combine oats and water in a large saucepan. Bring oats and water to a full boil. Give a stir and remove from heat. Cover and let sit 5+ hours in the fridge. Next morning or 5 hours later, bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook for 5 minutes more and remove from heat.
This sounded fantastic, so I tried it. And it worked fantastically! It was the clear winner in terms of quality. If you plan ahead and make the oats the night before, this is absolutely the preferred method. I enjoy my oats cold, but you can also heat them up with some water on the stovetop.
According to wikipedia, oats are more favored in Scotland than wheat, due to their shorter, wetter growing season. This may explain why we see Irish oatmeal being marketed to us — do Irish eat a lot of oatmeal? If anyone knows firsthand, I’d love to hear about it since I’m 25% Irish (or thereabouts).
Below: I decided to try coring an apple with a paring knife. The results weren’t outstanding, but they were passable.
Below: Some soy yogurt on the side, a ring of apple and some South Texas tangerine on top.
Below: Cook’s best friend – stainless steel wool for scrubbing pots.