Everyone has their own feelings about steel cut oatmeal. I’ve read a ton of different recipes and discussion about technique.
Personally, I favor a thicker, more nutty textured oatmeal, and this is how I achieve it.
The key question to successfully make steel cut oatmeal is the ratio of water to oats. Many recipes call for 3-to-1, so 3 cups of water to 1 cup of oats. But you will have to play around with the ratios to get it the way you like it.
1. Toast the Oats
Toasting the oats brings out their nuttiness and flavor. I drop a tablespoon or so of butter into a medium to medium-low pan. Once its melted, I add the oats and let those toast up for a few minutes. Give it a stir to prevent it from burning. That would be sad.
2. Boil the Water
Lots of recipes call for boiling a combination of milk and water. I think that messes up the even cooking of the oats, without imparting much flavor. If you do want to add milk, stir some in right before eating.
3. Add the Oats to the Water
Slide the toasted oats and a pinch of salt into the water and lower the heat to barely a simmer. The salt helps bring out the flavor of the oats.
4. Cover the Pot
Lots of recipes call for you to simmer the oats uncovered, stirring occasionally. I disagree. The oats don’t need any agitation, and keeping them uncovered just adds to the cooking time. If you get the water to oats ratio and the heat right, you don’t need to stir it at all.
I do a quick peek at around 20 minutes and see if they are done or not. If they aren’t there yet, keep checking every five minutes.
5. Let It Rest
Give the oatmeal 4-5 minutes of rest time, covered, before eating. This will allow the liquid to be absorbed by the oats and will make getting the ones on the bottom a lot easier. Plus, it’s mad hot, and you don’t want to burn your tongue.
6. Add the Fixings
Everyone has their favorite things to put on oatmeal. I’m a fan of berries and nut butter. But you do you.
Update June 2021
A friend suggested using the rice cooker instead of cooking on the range. I figured out a ratio that works for me:
- 1/2 cup of oatmeal
- 1 1/4 cup of water
- a dash of salt
YMMV based on your rice cooker and level of mushiness you prefer. Definitely takes less water than on the range.