I recently posted a recipe for Overnight Slow Cooker Oatmeal, which I made twice last week. My husband and I were totally diggin' that recipe ... that is, until I switched things up today and used steel cut oats (instead of old-fashioned oats). Instant oats are terrible overnight in the slow cooker (way too mushy). Old-fashioned oats worked pretty good (not quite total mush, but not super hearty and well-textured either). But, steel cut oats ... oh my goodness! I am in love!
If you have never heard of steel cut oats or have never looked for them in the store, let me give ya a little info on them and what to look for.
They are a tad pricier than your everyday, run-of-the-mill oats, but not by much. I paid $3.59 for my 24 oz. package at Kroger in the health food/organic section. I purchased Bob's Red Mill brand. Another well-known brand that is usually easily available is McCann's (my Wal-Mart has it in the actual oatmeal section), but it is a little more expensive compared to Bob's. I've, also, seen steel cut oats in bulk at places like Whole Foods and health food stores.
The difference between rolled and steel cut oats is that while both contain whole grain oats, they are processed differently. Rolled oats are steamed, rolled, steamed again and toasted. They end up as thin flakes. Steel cut oats are made from oat kernels that have been chopped into thick pieces.
Using steel cut oats produces a chewier, heartier texture that is somewhat nutty. And, they hold up wonderfully to the long process of overnight slow cooker cooking.
The recipe I used is very similar to the one I posted recently using old-fashioned oats. I use a loaf pan placed into my slow cooker insert and create a water bath. This prevents dried-on oats and is much easier clean-up wise.
I adore that I spend just 10 minutes at night throwing this together ... and we wake up to a ready-made breakfast and a house that smells divine! What could be better?
1 1/2 cups steel cut oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
2 cups milk
1 1/4 cups water (plus more to create the water bath)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 - 1 teaspoon cinnamon (however strong of cinnamon flavor you prefer)
Add in any fruit (fresh, frozen or dried) that your prefer - about a cup. (Best if fruit is placed on top of the oat mixture and not stirred in.) Blueberries, apple chunks, raisins, dried cherries, peaches, bananas ... whatever your fancy is!
Place a ball of crumpled foil on the bottom of your slow cooker. This will help sturdy your pan if it doesn't quite sit stable enough in the slow cooker and will prevent the pan from sitting directly on the bottom of the slow cooker insert - avoiding possible burning.
Place a greased bread loaf pan (I used a metal one) on top of the crumpled foil.
Add in the oats, salt and brown sugar.
Pour in the milk, water and vanilla. Add the butter. Stir.
Top with the cinnamon (and any fruit you're using). Do not stir.
Gently pour about 2 cups of water into the bottom of the slow cooker where the foil is.
Lid and cook on low for about 5 - 6 hours. (Turn the slow cooker to warm as everyone trickles in for breakfast.) Give the oatmeal a gentle stir. Sprinkle on some more brown sugar if a sweeter taste is desired. Serve with milk, if desired.
UPDATE 4-9-14: Since this post, I have made several versions of overnight steel cut oats in the slow cooker. Setting the slow cooker to the warm setting from the very beginning and cooking for 8 - 9 hours yields perfectly cooked oatmeal, as well.