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McCann's Steel Cut Oats Recipe

  • d

I've been making McCann's steel cut oats just about every morning for about a year now. After quite a bit of experimentation, my recipe is as follows:

Then night before, cook 1/2 cup of McCann's steel cut oats in about 1 tablespoon of fat (I use olive oil, but butter or vegetable oil work too) over medium heat, stirring constantly. Attention is required here -- oats burn very easily. If they burn, throw them out and start over. After about three minutes, when the frying oats start to give off a nice nutty aroma, carefully pour two cups of hot water into the pot. You need to wear a mitt when you do this or the steam will burn you. Cut about an inch off of a Madagascar or Tahitian vanilla bean, split it in half, and add it to the pot. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, cover, turn off the stove, and go to sleep.

The next morning, add about 1 cup of milk (I use 2%, but whole milk will produce a richer porridge), 2 tablespoons of vanilla sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, and sometimes, 1/4 teaspoon of good cinnamon powder (like Penzy's Vietnamese) and/or a little bit of vanilla extract. Find the piece of vanilla bean, scrape the seeds into the oatmeal, discard the husk. Cook, uncovered, over low heat until porridge is creamy, like hot oatmeal pudding. Serve sprinkled with a touch of cinnamon sugar or brown sugar and/or a bit of butter or cream.

Hope you like it.

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  1. Btw, I forgot -- this recipe makes two modest servings.

    2 Replies
    1. re: David Kahn

      It sounds very nice. I love porridge. Have you thought about scraping the vanilla bean the night before and adding the scraped seeds and pod to the pan? Easier to remove the next day. If you are using fresh vanilla beans ala Surfas it works well.

      1. re: JudiAU

        Thanks JudiAU. Usually, I cut a piece off of one of the vanilla beans in my vanilla sugar jar, so it's pretty dried out. By soaking it overnight, it gets soft and makes it easy to scrap out the seeds.

    2. Mmmmm...never been a big oatmeal fan, but this sounds like it might convert me. The vanilla is a big draw, and w/ prices on the decline, this sounds very feasible. Thanks for the recipe.

      Since I haven't worked much w/ oatmeal, I have a basic question. Is it possible to make a few batches of the first part to use up slowly throughout the week or do you need to go through that process each night before eating? This may sound lazy, but I'm not one of those people to make my lunch the night before, etc. If my idea compromises flavor, then I'll def. do it your way. Thanks.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Carb Lover

        Haven't tried that, but I suspect you'll have to do it each night. (It only takes five or ten minutes.) Once you add the water, the soluble fiber in the oats (which makes oatmeal good for you) starts to dissolve. If it sits too long, you'll lose the interesting texture of the steel cut oats.

        1. re: David Kahn

          I've tried reheating - it's ok, but David is right that it turns kind of dense and gelatinous. That makes it sound worse than it is - when you thin it out w/more milk it's not bad, but it's definitely much better on the first day.

      2. If you don't mind my asking, has this aided in weight maintenance or cholesterol lowering?

        I have thought about setting a daily routine like this myself so I can avoid eating anything unhealthy before lunch.

        10 Replies
        1. re: Tugboat

          I've been eating steel-cuts as part of a healthy weight loss/maintenance routine for some time now and enjoy them thoroughly for breakfast.

          That said, I DON'T pre-fry the oats in oil or add anything other than a splash of skim milk, a teaspoon of brown sugar, a pinch of salt, several grinds of pepper, and fruit - either a diced apple or an 1/8th cup of raisins (to a one cup serving of cooked oatmeal). Any other non-fat/non-sugar seasoning (like ground cinnamon) is fine, too. I find this to be a satisfying starting meal that easily holds my appetite in check until lunch.

          Of course, the fried/sugared/milk recipe is probably delicious, and I might try it for a weekend splurge.

          1. re: Striver

            I also add two chopped dried apricots which turns out well...

            1. re: Striver

              If you're watching your sugar/caloric intake, don't forget that dried fruits have way more sugar in them (sometimes added, sometimes just naturally concentrated), and it takes way more of them to fill you up. Better to stick with fresh fruit, or use less of the dried.

              1. re: nooodles

                Good tip - that's why when I add raisins, it's only 1/8 cup of raisins to 1 cup of oatmeal - as opposed to a whole fresh apple.

            2. re: Tugboat

              I'd like to get on a routine and try to eat better too, but I'm really terrible with taking time to cook in the morning. I don't mind evening prep, though. Does anyone have a recipe for finishing steel-cut oatmeal quickly in the morning, assuming that I do not have a microwave or a crockpot?

              1. re: Qwertyy

                The recipe I posted takes about ten minutes to finish in the morning.

                1. re: Qwertyy

                  You can reheat McCann's from the fridge in the morning if you make it the night before. Just add a little water and zap it for 1.5-2 minutes.
                  This preparation also means that you can make up a bigger batch at a time - say, a weekend morning - and still have oatmeal quickly during the week.

                  1. re: Nic

                    When we were having it every morning I'd make a big pot on Monday, have a cup each, and then parcel the remainder into four two-cup microwaveable containers. I made mine in a double boiler - put everything in on Sunday evening and set it on the hot tray all night. In the morning it took about fifteen minutes to get cooked.

                2. re: Tugboat

                  I take a different approach.....mind you I use very small amounts but I add a few (just a few) Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate chips, a pinch of coconut & some slivered toasted almonds......hmnnnn...tastes like a healthy almond joy for breakfast!

                  1. re: Tugboat

                    A few years ago I lowered my total cholesterol by 34% in, I think it was six months (maybe three?) by eating steel cut oats every morning and limiting saturated fat intake. I don't know how much of that can be attributed to the oats, but my doctor was satisfied. I also started a healthy habit and eat a breakfast somewhat similar to the OP's pretty frequently in cold weather. (Same night before method, but currants and walnuts instead of the milk and sugar.) It's filling and lasts until late morning, which is nice, not to get hungry until around 11 am. I used to have to eat a snack around 10 am or risk snapping at coworkers, eek! I recommend giving his recipe a try, looks great! I'll be trying it myself .

                  2. Does anyone have any recipes using steel cut oatmeal, like for oatmeal cookies, muffins, etc? Thank you, Susie

                    1. d
                      Das Ubergeek

                      I make mine in a Crock Pot because my wife and I have separate schedules in the morning.

                      Take 1 cup steel-cut oatmeal.

                      If you like, toast the oatmeal in a pan in a little butter.

                      Put the oatmeal in the Crock Pot along with a cup of buttermilk, three cups of water and a pinch of salt.

                      Cover and turn on the Crock Pot overnight to "low".

                      Eat in the morning -- I add 1 Tbsp. maple syrup and some kind of fresh fruit, usually berries at this stage of the year.

                      Makes four small or two big portions.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                        I make mine in the crock all the time but with all water. Just curious what kind of flavor/texture the buttermilk adds? I just bought a carton of buttermilk to make no knead bread and I will have some leftover for the weekend pot of oatmeal...

                      2. I like the steel cut oats with chopped apple and pear on the side. The fruits' sweetness complements the flavor of the oatmeal tremendously. No milk, but I do have coffee with my breakfast. And I'm no saint, so prunes, an orange, and a pop-tart round out the meal.

                        Also, 'Country Choice' has organic steel-cut oatmeal.


                        1. Yes I am Grandam. I would like the recipe for the cookie recipe. Thanks!

                          1. Just to update this a little, I'm still doing pretty much exactly the same recipe, but I've cut the amount of olive oil down to two teaspoons, and I've switched to 1% milk. The changes make the porridge a little less caloric and don't seem to affect the flavor materially.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: David Kahn

                              Also, can you dry toast the oats in skillet with no oil at all?

                              1. re: Val

                                yes, that's the way i do it. toast the oats in a dry pan over medium-high heat. it takes longer than you might think ... never timed it, but i can usually go out front and get the paper before it's done. then follow mr. kahn's recipe. i use 1/3 cup oats to 2 cups of water. bring it to a boil, PARTIALLY cover and reduce heat to simmer (if you completely cover it will boil over). it'll take about 30 minutes. Pinch of salt is the only seasoning I use, th ough after its cooked I add some dried fruit (mix of TJ specials: orange cranberries, montmorency cherries and raisins), a little brown sugar and some toasted slivered almonds. sometimes a little white sugar if i want to bring up the sweetness without adding more molasses flavor.

                              2. re: David Kahn

                                I just started using steel-cut oats (alas, not McCann's just the generic stuff out of the Wegman's bulk bins). I'm certainly not ever going to go back to instant oats. It's amazing how much it tastes like real food. I've just been pre-soaking overnight and then microwaving...although, today I cooked myself a pot the way they are supposed to be cooked, for 30 minutes. My question is whether the pre-toasting is necessary?

                                1. re: firni

                                  Not necessary, but it gives them a nice, nutty flavor. (Hard to do without using at least a little bit of fat of some sort.)

                              3. McCann's used to have a "quick and easy" version of their steel cut oats - it took about five minutes to cook and was WONDERFUL. Over the past year, it's been harder and harder to find - first it disappeared from my local store and I could only get it at specialty stores. Now I don't see it anywhere. I suspect that the product wasn't promoted and never took off. I'd be interested in urging McCann's to make it widely available if there are other people out there who would support such an effort. Any takers?

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: jns7

                                  I've seen that product at SuperTarget and Whole Foods, but I have no idea if it's in different regional warehouses. Both stores here will cheerfully take special orders, though I find I have to call back to inquire at Whole Foods because they have a tendency to shelve my special order instead of holding it. I'm sorry to say the quick version wasn't for me, didn't care for the texture, but I wish you luck finding it.

                                  1. re: jns7

                                    Trader Joe's also carries a Quick Steel Cut Oats that may be similar to McCann's quick and easy.

                                  2. David, I made your recipe last night/this morning with some changes--three servings oatmeal to a mixture of 1/2 tsp. ea. butter and canola oil to toast. In the morning, I found I only had a couple ounces lowfat milk left, so used two ounces whole milk to supplement, and left it at 1/2 c. milk total, (since I didn't want to add a lot of saturated fat, and whole is all I had in the house.) Scraped half a Rodelle Papua New Guinea vanilla pod in and mixed in 1/2 tsp. kosher salt. Served with my usual currants and walnuts, and hey, hey, guess what? RAVE reviews all around. Thanks!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: amyzan

                                      I am so glad I found this! Many, belated, thanks!

                                    2. Sorry to, once again, reply to my own post (so gauche), but stumbled upon a variation recently that is worth noting. On one of his ice cream episodes, Alton Brown suggests adding a small amount of peach preserves to his vanilla ice cream recipe, and it works great; you don't taste the peach as such, but it somehow really intensifies and improves the vanilla flavor. Watching this, it occurred to me that the same thing might work here. Well, I tried it (adding one teaspoon of good peach preserves to the recipe above), and I really like it. It makes the vanilla taste stronger and better.

                                      Also, I've cut the olive oil back to one teaspoon, and the milk back to 1%, neither of which seems to have a bad effect. Hope you guys enjoy.

                                      1. the sautee in oil, what does this technique do in the prep?

                                        I use a variation of this. I just boile 4 cups of water, add one cup of steel cut oats (other additives like dried fruit, brown sugar,etc) boil for 5 minutes. Then shut off heat, cover. Next morning, I have great oat meal that I can bring back by just microwaving it. BTW, I notice the if it sits in the fridge a couple day, most the slime/pastiness goes away.

                                        I love the texture of steet cut oats. reminds me of tapioca balls. Just a great breakfast. I eat it about 5 days a week as breakfast

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Soup

                                          The sautee in oil gives the oats a nice toasty flavor and aroma. Probably causes a little bit of caramelization of the starches in the oats.

                                        2. Thanks for the post....I'm enjoying a bowl of this right now and love it. I've never had that hint of vanilla in my oatmeal before, and even got my wife to eat it. She never ate my oatmeal before!

                                          1. One final variation on this recipe that's perhaps worth posting. If you like creamy oatmeal, you can double the initial dose of water, and instead of leaving the oatmeal on the stove top over night, put it in the oven set to 190 F. Otherwise prepare as above. The resulting oatmeal will have almost none of the usual steel cut oatmeal texture, but will be very, very creamy. Like oatmeal pudding.