Overnight Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Overnight Steel-Cut Oatmeal

It’s June. Mid-June. Some would even say it’s getting on towards late June. So why am I still making oatmeal?

Because it’s so ridiculously easy, that’s why. This overnight trick (which involves a slow cooker, I must warn you) is laughable as far as an actual recipe goes: You measure water, you measure oats, you pinch some salt, and you’re there. The most complicated part of the whole process is setting up a water bath inside your slow cooker, which keeps the oats from getting crusty and dried out as they cook. What elevates it into something every time-pressed parent—every time-pressed person, period—should make regularly is the ratio of blissful satisfaction to piddling effort. Imagine waking up to a creamy, chewy, fills-you-up-all-morning breakfast that’s ready and waiting, after sixty seconds of “work” the night before. Uh huh, that’s right. Sixty seconds.

If you’re not familiar with steel-cut oats, they’re a distant cousin of quick cooking and old-fashioned rolled oats. Instead of being flaked, the oat groat (love that phrase: I hear Beavis chuckling, “heh heh, she said ‘oat groat’”) is chopped into two or three pieces by steel blades, hence the name. It’s the entire grain, and it’s minimally processed—always a good thing. The taste is more pronounced than with rolled oats; it’s oatier, if that makes sense. But it’s mostly about the texture: steel-cut oats fight you back a bit as you’re chewing them. You can feel each oat in your mouth, if you concentrate. I consider this to be a very good thing; chewy is one of my preferred textures. (I also like the heel of bread and the corner piece of nearly anything baked in a rectangular dish.) Topped with brown sugar, toasted pecans, and raisins, this is just about perfect.

Overnight Steel-Cut Oatmeal
Serves 2 adults & 1 toddler

3 cups cold water
1 cup steel-cut oatmeal
pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a glass 4-cup measure (or a similar heat-safe bowl that can hold at least 4 cups). Put the measuring cup inside your slow cooker’s insert. Carefully add cold water in the space between the cup and the wall of the insert—you’re making a water bath. You want the water level to come up just slightly higher than the level inside the cup; this will keep things creamy, not crusty. Cover, turn cooker to low, and go to sleep.

I’ve set this up as early as 9PM and as late as midnight, and it’s reliably creamy-not-crusty every time.

ETA: It’s an hour or two later, and we’ve just eaten our oatmeal. June may, in fact, be too warm for oatmeal after all. Sigh.