Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tales from the Crock: Uncle Alton's Overnight Oatmeal

I am not a fussy eater. I love food, all kinds of food. I love good food and I love it more when it's easy. This, and my new found addiction to Pinterest has lead to my current obsession with all things slow cooker.

My life doesn't lend itself well to spending hours every day making tasty chow, but I don't like processed food; the slow cooker means making food while I am doing something else - multitasking for the win.

In this instance, I made oatmeal while I slept.

Alton Brown is my cooking hero. I have tried to work through his cookbooks from cover to cover, so when I found his recipe for Overnight Oatmeal I tried it. My first attempt was gross. Doing this for the second time I caught my original error. Steel cut oats. There is always a container of old fashioned oatmeal in the pantry, I love oatmeal, but you can't skip the steel cut oats for this recipe. Anything else and you end up with an unattractive crock pot of mush.

It is oatmeal, so it's still a crock pot of mush, but it smells like an oatmeal cookie and has the consistency of bread pudding (my favorite).

Tasty morning chow.

Uncle Alton's Altered Overnight Oatmeal 

1c. steel cut oats (not kidding, don't use anything else)
4 1/4c. water
1/2c. half and half 
1c. dried cranberries
1c. chopped, dried apples 
Pinch salt
Pinch cinnamon
Top-full vanilla*
3 pinches brown sugar

Toss it all in the crock pot, set to low and go take a nap. In about 8 hours, you will have warm sweet oatmeal and a kitchen that smells like oatmeal cookies. Not a bad way to wake up.  

I overslept by about 45min the morning that I made this. The total cook time was closer to 9 hours and there was some burning on the edges. To keep from having to eat the burned parts, I let the oatmeal cool and then spooned it out while it was a little more gelatin-like leaving the burned edges behind. 

Happy accident that turned out to be. I covered the first bowl in milk and stuck it in the microwave and then stirred it together. Tasted like a porridge of steel cut oats. If you are not familiar with steel cut, the consistency is different, not like instant oatmeal, much thicker and heartier. It's going to be great on cold mornings and it left me feeling full. 

I got home from work and decided that I would try some of it cold. Winner! Cold right out of the fridge, with cold milk it was oatmeal bead pudding with bits of fruit and warm vanilla. 

*"Top-full" is my own measurement. It's the amount of vanilla extract that fits in the top of the bottle. I know I am not the only baker out there who measures like this. 

Next up on Tales from the Crock.... Teriyaki Chicken and Pork

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