Steel-cut oats are awesome! Steel-cut oats are much less processed than traditional rolled oats (which are precooked and steamrolled into that flat shape we all recognize). Plus, they stick to your ribs better. They also have a very nice chewy texture when cooked. Two methods for cooking them:
Bring 4 c. water to boil. Stir in 1 c. oats. Bring to a boil and boil for a few minutes, then simmer for 30 minutes on low. Optional variation for more creaminess: use only 3 c. water and then gradually stir in 1 c. milk during the simmering.
The night before, set out 1 c. oats in 2 c. water to soak overnight. In the morning, add a good 1.5-2 c. milk, bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce to a simmer and still give it a good stir fairly often. Should be done cooking in 5-10 minutes. (You could just use all water to cook, milk is optional.) Honestly, I don’t measure the water or the milk, I just eyeball it. I pour the oats in the pan, cover with water by a good 1/2 inch, then in the morning add a tiny bit more water, bring to a boil, then add the milk as it simmers. You can make it as thick or thin as you like.
Method #2 is the Weston A Price approved method because soaking grains neutralizes phytic acid, something that apparently is not great for you that whole grains contain. (This stuff is still very new to me, so I refer you to Wikipedia.)
What I really like about method #2 is that the soaking brings out more of the oats’ natural sweetness. Which reminds me: if you’re used to Ye Olde Instant Quaker Oats (was anyone else besides me RAISED on that stuff?), you might want to add a wee bit of brown sugar to your steel-cut oats.
Optional add-ons: brown sugar, craisins or other dried fruit (add during the cooking process so that they rehydrate a bit), spices like cinnamon or ginger, a tiny bit of molasses, maple syrup, or even peanut butter and jelly. I also usually stir in 1/2 c. of ground flaxseed after the oatmeal gets done cooking, for extra nutritional value.
Steel-cut oats are one of those things that some people get really mental about. This blogger had to post a retraction about his steel-cut oats recipe. The first steel cut oats Adam and I bought were McCann’s Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal, and they recommend serving with fresh buttermilk. Nowadays we always buy the oats in bulk because they are much cheaper and more local than from Ireland.
Both recipes above make enough for 2-3 people. Sometimes I double the recipe and store the leftovers in the fridge so I can just heat them up in the microwave the following day. I do that a lot less often, though, since I started using method #2. My kids are absolutely mental for this stuff.
UPDATE, mid-August 2009: My kids are in a growth spurt right now, so I am changing the amount I make. I am now using about 1 1/2 c. of dried oatmeal and that feeds all four of us.
UPDATE, mid-October 2009: I also recently started stirring in 2 T. of butter. For some reason, you don’t need to sweeten it as much if you put a little butter in there, and DANG is it good. (Trying to cut back on sugar right now.)