It’s such a simple idea, the kind of idea that makes you wonder why you didn’t think of it before.
I got the idea from Kim Boyce’s marvelous baking book, “Good To The Grain” (the winner of Food52’s Piglet tournament of cookbooks.) From the title of this post, I think you’ve sussed it out; the idea is to toast your oatmeal before you cook it.
You put two tablespoons of butter into a pot. You heat it until it’s foamy and then you add one cup of steel-cut oats.
On medium heat, you stir them and cook them until they smell like popcorn. Throw a pinch of salt in there too. Kim Boyce suggests that you keep an uncooked oat on the counter so you can study how the oats in the pot are changing color. You want them to get goldenish, but they won’t all change at once, so be careful that you don’t let some burn while others are still toasting. If some oats are getting really dark, it’s time to add the water.
Add four cups. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook—stirring every so often—until it’s nice and thick and the oats are fully cooked. You may need to add more water if it thickens up but the oats are still tough. Just taste and adjust to your liking.
When it’s ready, spoon into a bowl and here’s where things get really unusual. You don’t add sugar, you don’t add honey, you don’t dried fruit (this isn’t my Sunday Morning Oatmeal.) You just pour cold milk or cream on top:
Remarkably, because you toasted those oats, the oat flavor itself will be its own reward. You’ll eat this thoughtfully, surprised at how much you like oatmeal without all the fixings. And even if you do make oatmeal with all the fixings, try toasting your oats first. It’s just a neat trick that makes everything taste different, a through-the-looking-glass twist to your daily oatmeal routine.