In the winter, especially when it’s raining (or snowing, for that matter, though that’s pretty unlikely in most of southern California) and cold, I can’t think of a better way to start the day than a hot bowl of oatmeal. Ok – maybe staying in bed under the warm covers is a better way, but since we all have to get up sometime, oatmeal is an acceptable substitute.
I regularly make big batches of steel cut oatmeal, eat one bowl full, then pour the rest into a sealable container and store it in the fridge. The oatmeal sets up and it is easy to scoop out individual portions for the rest of the week. On weekends, I tend to have a bit more time on my hands and this is when I usually make the big batches. Occasionally, I’ll make something to go with the oatmeal instead of tossing in the usual scoop of raisins.
For this batch, I made some caramelized apple slices. It’s a quick and dirty way to do it, simply browning the apples slightly in a hot pan with butter, then turning down the heat and letting them cook until soft. At this point, you can toss in some brown sugar (really making a very nice caramel apple sauce) or do what I do and add the apples to the oatmeal with maple syrup. I’ll always do at least two apples and save the leftovers for another breakfast or two, but if you’re sharing your initial batch of oatmeal with some loved ones or hungry friends, you might want to toss in a third apple, just in case.
Steel Cut Oatmeal with Caramelized Apples
3/4 cup steel cut oats
3 1/4 cups water
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
2 medium apples
1 tbsp butter
maple syrup or brown sugar
Combine oats and water in medium saucepan. Bring water to a boil. Boil for about 15 minutes, turn the heat down to medium-low. Stirring occasionally, cook for an additional 15 minutes. Once 30 minutes of total cooking time has elapsed, you need to watch the oatmeal and test it for doneness (not too firm, not too squishy). Stir it frequently – don’t worry if it sticks to the bottom of the pan in places, just scrape the bottom well with your spoon. Cook an additional 5-10 minutes, as necessary. Add the salt, vanilla, and spices and remove from the heat when the oatmeal has reached the consistency that you like.
While oatmeal is cooking, prepare the apples. Peel and core the fruit, slicing each apple in half, then into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick slices. Saute in a small saucepan over medium-high heat with butter until fruit is browned, then reduce the heat and cook until tender, stirring frequently.
Spoon apples into bowl with oatmeal and top with maple syrup or brown sugar.