That Time I Made Savory Oatmeal and It Was Kind of Weird But I Ate It Anyway

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When I first heard about savory oatmeal, I felt confused. Onions in oatmeal? Is that even possible? What planet are we on?

I grew up eating oatmeal out of little packets, the kind you tear open, pour some water on and stick in the microwave. My preferred flavor was maple brown sugar, but occasionally I’d opt in for the apple cinnamon kind. Thankfully, no packets said “garlic and onions” or the younger me would’ve run screaming into the hills. The current me is slightly more open-minded.

What changed my mind was a fancy meal at a fancy restaurant somewhere–I forget where–during which I had some kind of protein served on a mushroom oatmeal (or was it mushroom porridge? is there a difference?) that was quite compelling. I made a mental note. I also made a mental note when Mark Bittman wrote about savory oatmeal in one of his columns.

But this wasn’t the sort of thing I could cook if Craig were here. He wouldn’t go for it. This is extreme, radical foodstuff, not like putting walnuts in your chocolate chip cookies…we’re talking a major leap here. I knew I had to do it alone so, while he was at Sundance, I did.

I started by cooking onions in butter:

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When they started to brown, I added chopped garlic:

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Then I added the rolled oats, to toast them in the fat and to let them take on some of those savory flavors:

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Water, next (though chicken stock would’ve been nice):

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As it cooked down, I added soy sauce, because why not?

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Also: some chile paste and chopped parsley.

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I have to say, it tasted pretty interesting. Like eating a really savory muffin or pancake or waffle… not that it tastes bad, it’s just not the reason you normally eat those things.

Here’s where I got weird: I decided to crack an egg directly into the oatmeal to poach it.

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I’m not sure why this seemed like a good idea… Maybe because there would be one less dish to clean? And the egg would take on the oatmeal’s flavors?

Well, it all worked out in the end, I suppose:

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I sprinkled something red on top (paprika? cayenne? sorry, this was two months ago) and ate it all. Would I eat it again? Maybe if a chef made it, but for my money, oatmeal is best when it’s served the way God intended: with butter and brown sugar, onions completely out of sight and out of mind.

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