With its crunchy-chewy texture and nutty taste, steel-cut oats is a versatile ingredient for breakfast as well as for dinner!
We would all be better off if we ate more oatmeal. Oats are a whole-grain food high in protein and fiber. But it can be a hard sell for family chefs for two main reasons: The healthiest stuff takes a long time to cook, and some consider oatmeal to be flavorless mush.
Reconsidering oatmeal as a breakfast-only food solves both of these problems. Preparing oatmeal in the evening, when you aren’t rushing to get to work, solves the time problem. And adding lots of savory ingredients solves the flavor problem!
Cooking with the right type of oats solves the mush problem. Most types of oatmeal that people are familiar with come from rolled oats. The oat kernels are smashed. Steel-cut oats describe the same oat kernel, but instead of being smashed, the kernels are chopped up into pieces. Steel-cut oats take longer to cook, but they also have the most texture of any type of oatmeal.
Instead of a warm breakfast cereal, think of steel-cut oats as a type of brown rice. Both take about the same amount of time to cook, and cooked steel-cut oats have a consistency like risotto.
In fact, steel-cut oats can be substituted for rice in any of your favorite risotto recipe. Try combining the oats with sautéed mushrooms and grated cheese, or top with grilled asparagus.
Steel-cut oats can also be cooled and cut into cakes, like polenta. Top with chopped tomatoes and basil.
I wanted to use steel-cut oats for the foundation of a whole meal. To pay homage to the breakfast beginnings of steel-cut oats, I used chorizo (a cured Spanish sausage) in my dish. I like using chorizo because of its warm and spicy taste. If it isn’t available, use two links of spicy Italian sausage, removing the sausage from its casing.
Begin by toasting 1 cup of oats in 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 3-quart pot. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the oats are fragrant. Then add 1 quart of Progresso® chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until all the liquid is gone.
Dice 4 ounces of chorizo and cook in a 12-inch frying pan for about 5 minutes. Remove the sausage and leave the rendered fat in the pan.
Dice up one medium yellow onion and three medium sweet bell peppers; add them to the pan. Cook for about 20 minutes until the peppers have cooked down and the onions have begun to caramelize.
Cook the oats until all the liquid is absorbed and evaporated, about 35 to 40 minutes. Then taste and season with salt as necessary. (The common recommended cooking time for steel-cut oats is 30 minutes, resulting in a very creamy consistency. But that texture is better for breakfast than dinner.)
Stir the cooked peppers and onions into the oatmeal. Divide among four bowls; top with the cooked chorizo.