I’m going to take you step by step through the process of making the best bowl of oatmeal you’ve ever eaten. I just ate one and man, was it good. Honestly, there’s nothing revolutionary here, but it’s made my life better and so I want to share it with you.
First, let me share my perspective with you: I like oatmeal plain. I don’t put anything on it. No sugar, no fruit, no nothing. I don’t know if they still sell Grape Nuts, but I used to eat those plain with just milk as well. (Another thing that is better without anything added is peanut butter, by the way. I used to think I hated peanut butter, because it would induce a gag reflex, and then I learned about natural peanut butter without salt or sugar added. Turns out that stuff is great. But I digress.)
The key to the whole thing is Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Almond Beverage, and steel cut oats. (Don’t be thrown by the “beverage” name; they likely call it “almond beverage” instead of “almond milk” to avoid lawsuits from dairy producers, like this one.) Another brand of almond milk could work, I guess, but a) it has to be unsweetened, and b) I really like the vanilla flavor they add to this mil–to this beverage. I think it adds 90% of the value to the end product. So I really recommend trying it. The steel cut oats are key to texture; if you want a bowl of mush, heat up your instant oatmeal and skip this post.
So here’s the blow by blow. You take a giant saucepan and fill it with three cups of water and three cups of the unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Add two pinches of kosher salt. Don’t skip this part. (It adds to the flavor and as long as it’s just a couple of small pinches it does not make the final result salty.) Bring it to a boil and add two cups of steel cut oats. At this point I reduce the heat to medium while keeping everything on a strong boil, stirring quite a bit for five minutes. Then you can reduce heat to low and simmer for about another thirty minutes. You’ll have to stay on hand and give everything a good stir every few minutes.
That’s pretty much it, but now you have eight servings, roughly. What do you do? Roughly divide it into eight equal parts — I find that about 1/2 cup of tightly packed oatmeal, not heaping but rounded, is about an eighth of the whole. You’re going to eat one serving now — maybe two, to reward yourself. Then pack up the rest, ideally in seven (or six, if you ate two servings today) separate containers. This is your breakfast for the next week. It’s breakfast time? You grab your individual container of oatmeal heaven and reheat.
Now: the reheating. On Day Two, you dump your brick of oatmeal into a bowl. Give it a splash of the beverage (or half and half if you like) and heat in the microwave for thirty seconds. Take your spoon and chop up the brick and fluff it up some. Then give it another splash or two of your beverage and nuke it for another minute and a half to minute and 45 seconds. You’ll find the sweet spot for amount of splash and nuking time after a few tries. Stir and fluff and you’re done.
The result? An incredibly aromatic blend of vanilla/almond flavored oatmeal that has a slightly chewy texture. To me, it’s hearty, and very satisfying.
I will warn you: to my family, who see oatmeal as a blank canvas for their fruits and sugars and whatnot, the process described above is not worth the trouble. They don’t see what the big deal is. To me, a pure oatmeal lover, it’s the best oatmeal I have ever had.
If you try it, let me know how it turned out.