A Southern Grace: surprisingly smitten

February 1, 2016

surprisingly smitten


I'm pretty sure I've talked about the fact that I don't really like oatmeal as a breakfast option. Granted, until recently, I'd only ever eaten the stuff that comes in the little brown packet, and that's undoubtedly my first mistake (of many). Although I'm sure it's not always the case, I can't help but associate oatmeal with a thick, gummy texture reminiscent of mucous, and that's anything but appetizing.

As it turns out, there's a large portion of the oatmeal world that I didn't know existed, or at least never considered. I owe my epiphany to a restaurant here in Charlotte that opened my eyes one lazy weekend morning. I ordered what they call porridge, and what was presented to me was a bowl of steel cut oats and quinoa thickened with coconut milk and topped with a layer of crunchy, brûléed brown sugar and a mound of perfectly diced apples.

Guess what: The simple adjustment of using steel-cut oats instead of instant oats automatically changed that bowl of semi-solid fiber into something that actually felt good in my mouth. The faint flavor of coconut helped immensely, and breaking through that barrier of brown sugar was fun and added a sweetness I always appreciate.

This image made possible by my multi-talented slightly pyromaniacal partner in life.

I was tempted to go back to the restaurant the next day, but my better, more rational half pointed out that money still doesn't grow on trees. Instead, I decided to recreate the bowl of wholesomeness at home. After a few sad (but happily still edible) attempts, I think I've found a method that is accommodating and yields very satisfying results. Do be careful not to cook the grains too long, though--there's a thin line between tasty texture and mucousy mush.
Wake-and-Eat Oats
(printable recipe)
Makes about 8 servings
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1-1/2 cups steel-cut oats
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, tightly packed, plus more for topping
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and finely diced, optional but enjoyable!
In a mesh strainer, rinse the quinoa well.
In a large non-stick pan, heat the coconut oil over medium heat until shimmering and add the oats, toasting until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Pour the water and coconut milk into a Dutch oven or a large heavy-bottomed pot.
Turn the heat to high and bring the liquids to a full boil, then pour in rinsed quinoa and toasted oats.
Stir and let the grains cook for 5 minutes.
After 1 minute, turn off the heat, add the brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon and stir to combine.
Cover the pot and leave out overnight.
In the morning uncover the mixture and turn the heat on to medium.
Stir occasionally until the oats are heated through. There will be a bit of water in the mixture still, but the oats will thicken up as they sit.
When finished, immediately turn off the heat and transfer to another dish or to breakfast bowls.
Top with more brown sugar and brûlée, if desired (and if you're high-functioning enough in the morning to operate a kitchen torch), and serve with the diced apples.
Store the leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge. Leftover oats will last all week!


Angie's Recipes said...

it somehow reminds me of creme brulee :-)) I would happily devour the whole batch!

~~louise~~ said...

Kudos to that restaurant for inspiring you to give oatmeal another try, Grace.

My daughter always had a rtexture thing with oatmeal until she too was introduced to Irish Oatmeal or steel cut oats. Totally different! She now enjoys it more often and has even learned how to get it just right in the slow cooker. It makes me happy too because now the grandkids are having warmer bellies in the morning, lol...

It sounds like you too have spent a lot of time getting your "porridge" just right. I love that you have added the quinoa, now that's a power packed breakfast! Good job Grace and thanks for sharing...

Unknown said...

What a great way to use quinoa!

Marjie said...

I've heard of using a slow cooker overnight for steel cut oats, but never thought of just putting it in a pan and letting it sit overnight! My sons like oatmeal with cream in it instead of milk; that's too calorie-laden for me, thought.

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

I loooovvveee oatmeal - and anything bruleed - and this has my mouth watering! I like that this has coconut oil and coconut milk, yum.

Unknown said...

Holy Moly, Grace, I've been eating oatmeal/porridge for many years but this totally looks like a deluxe version that I just HAVE to try. BTW, I had never eaten grits until just a few (<8) years ago, but had my first taste in a restaurant in Florida.... love new tastes!Tks for posting this.

Velva said...

Holy cow! I am a oatmeal lover including those little brown packages. This version would send me over the edge in delight. Oh my! God that looks good.


Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies said...

I am completely intrigued by your recipe, and will have to try it. Without the brulee, because I would be way to dangerous attempting it that early in the day :)

Kate @ Framed Cooks said...

Yes, steel cut oats are the BEST - welcome to oatmeal heaven! Love this recipe. :)

Unknown said...

I love Oat Meal. Never had it with quinoa! Will definitely try this recipe. Thanks for sharing! :)

Kate said...

Oooooo, what magic!! First, I love the addition of quinoa for added texture and flavor and then the crunchy sugar on top?!! Fabulous!

Pam said...

Now that is an oatmeal I can love! It looks perfect.

Katerina said...

I have never tried anything like this! You got me curious to try it!

Unknown said...

I am with you...I can't stand the oatmeal in the packets--so yucky! But I do like regular oats or steel cut oats. Thanks for sharing this!

Alison said...

Not only do regular oats have a better texture than instant, but they are much healthier! And this looks super tasty! :)

Linda@2CookinMamas said...

I felt the same way about oatmeal as you did! Then I found many ways through blogger friends of making oatmeal - in bar form, square form, pancakes, fruited and now I love it. Just did an oatmeal roundup that you might like to check out. I am totally down with your version, which does remind me of creme brulee too and will have to try it real soon.

Elsa | the Whinery said...

I love this! I've never thought to combine oats with quinoa, and i looove porridge. And I love the technique you used too, I want to try this badly! :-)

Adina said...

Very intriguing and the fact that I took it for creme brulee at first is of much advantage. I will be making this soon.