Think of this as a quick, sweet, and slightly spiced breakfast pilaf, made with pan-toasted steel-cut oats and brown butter. Putting your tea kettle on to boil at the outset will get this on the table sooner. ;o) —AntoniaJames
Test Kitchen Notes
Toasting the oats here adds layers of nutty, semi-sweet flavors to this traditional Irish breakfast. Still, this dish is best for folks who like their breakfast to err on the side of less sweet -- packets of maple-brown sugar instant oatmeal need not apply. A bit of heavy cream added at the end gave this oatmeal a rich sidecar that complemented the dry toastiness of the oats. —Erin
- Serves 3 to 4
steel-cut oats (regular or quick-cooking)
dark brown sugar, plus more for serving, if desired
Tiny pinch of salt
ground allspice (optional, or use freshly grated nutmeg, or the tiniest pinch of cloves -- whatever you like)
A small piece of best-quality cinnamon stick (you’ll need a fine microplane-style grater for this)
Add-ins: Dried fruit (raisins, dried sour cherries, and dried cranberries are my go-to add-ins), spiced applesauce, toasted chopped nuts, or whatever strikes your fancy
Sweeteners to taste: Maple syrup, sorghum, or honey
Almond milk (ideally homemade) or cream, to taste
- For regular steel-cut oats, boil 4 cups of filtered water. If using quick-cooking oats, boil whatever other amount is recommended on your package.
- Put a heavy 2- or 3-quart saucepan on the stove over a medium flame while you measure the oats. When the pan is good and hot, add the oats and shake the pan a bit. Let them toast, shaking every 30 seconds or so (Be patient! They need time to darken a bit.) for about 3 minutes.
- Turn the heat off and remove the oats from the pan. (I put them in one of the bowls in which I’ll be serving the porridge.)
- Add the butter to the hot pan, stirring briskly. It will melt immediately and start to evaporate. Turn the heat back on to medium. Keep stirring!
- When the foaming subsides and the solids have started to darken, add the one tablespoon of brown sugar. Stir it for about a minute to get a mild toffee flavor.
- Add the oats and a tiny pinch of salt and stir thoroughly, letting the ingredients brown, stirring all the while, for one minute. Turn the heat off and continue to stir for another minute.
- Very carefully and slowly, pour the hot water into the pan. It will send off a lot of steam, so be careful. Stir the oatmeal thoroughly and let it come to a full boil. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t boil over.
- At this point, I usually add about half of the dried fruit we plan to use.
- Once the oats start to boil briskly, turn them down to a slower boil. If you let them cook too fast, the water will evaporate before enough of it has been absorbed.
- Cook for about 15 minutes, or as long as necessary to absorb the water to your desired consistency. (Quick-cooking oats should require only about 6 to 8 minutes) Sprinkle the ground spices on and stir them in.
- Top with whatever add-ins you like. Use a microplane-style grater to grate a touch of cinnamon over each bowl.
- Serve with whatever sweeteners you like, and almond milk or cream, as desired.
- Enjoy! ;o)