Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ris-Oat-O

This is the post where you'll probably think I'm crazy, but bear with me.

The story starts a looooong time ago. Where, in my childhood, my mother wasn't very interested in making any sort of breakfast. Oh, let's be truthful. She was usually hung over and didn't get up in time to deal with breakfast before I went to school.

So pancakes, waffles, oatmeal .. none of the warm breakfasts were ever on the menu. When I finally experienced oatmeal as an adult, I didn't like it much.

Over the years, I tried it multiple times - with milk, with cream, with maple syrup. And I just didn't like it. As far as I was concerned, oatmeal was for cookies or bread or baking, but not for breakfast.

Then I discovered steel cut oats. (Cue angelic singing)

Oh yeah. That's the good stuff!

But here's the deal. I never liked my oatmeal sweetened. I liked it best cooked with just a pinch of salt and a dab of butter. Savory, not sweet.

Steel cut oats.
I mean, oats are just another grain. Like rice or barley or corn or wheat ... So why not cook them in a savory way? Like grits. Or ....

(wait for it ...)

Like risotto, maybe. Sure, risotto is all about rice, but I've seen recipes for barley risotto. So why not OAT risotto?

Yes, I said it. Oat risotto. Ris-Oat-O.

This is so simple, but it's so freakishly good. It's not too savory for breakfast (I mean, grits are savory, right?)  but I also ate this as a side dish with a garlicky pork dish.

I've been eating this A LOT. It's sooooo good.

And now I'm thinking of all sorts of other add-ins I want to try. There will be recipes coming soon, if my plans work out. But this one will have to be my classic ris-oat-o recipe. The one that I'm going to make over and over again. Because it's easy. And good.

I'll bet that if you served these oats to someone who had only ever eaten rolled or quick oats, they might not recognize them. Particularly with the cheese.

I love making oatmeal in my rice cooker. If you don't have a rice cooker, of course you can cook your oatmeal on the stove.

Ris-Oat-O

1 rice-cooker-cup of steel cut oats
Water, to "porridge" level in rice cooker
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Parmesan cheese, grated

Put the oats, water, salt, and butter in the rice cooker.

Set the rice cooker to the brown rice setting, and "soft."

Press the start button. Wait, tapping toe, while oats cook. Or walk away and come back when it's done. (See, that's the beauty of a rice cooker. You walk away and do something else. No stirring, no burning.)

The oatmeal might seem soupy but when you stir it up, you should have nicely cooked oats in a thick sauce.

Serve with a generous snow of grated parmesan cheese.

If you're going to go really crazy with the cheese, you might want to cut back just a bit on the salt, since the cheese is salty. I'll leave that up to you.

You can make this in large batches (this is enough for about 3-4 servings for me, depending on how hungry I am) and it reheats well in the microwave. It thickens up as it cools, though, so you'l want to add a bit of water to it when you reheat, so you get that creamy texture back again.

Did I mention ...

That the oats were provided by the Irish Food Board? I didn't know there was such an organization until they contacted me, and of course I was interested in finding out more about what we get from Ireland. For starters, four different brands of oats, McCanns, Flahavan's, Macroom, and Kilbeggan. That's a lot of oat companies.

For this recipe, I used the Flahavan's, and I have to say that I like them a heck of a lot more than my usual non-branded bulk bin oats. Go figure, huh?

  
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