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Apr 5, 2010 05:14 AM

How does Johnny D's make oatmeal so yummy?

Certain members of my household will eat up a cup of Johnny D's oatmeal in a snap but not eat what I make at home. How do they make it so yummy? (I love it too. AND I'd love to get some more oatmeal into my people for their own good!)

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  1. Not based on actual insider knowledge but informed assumption. Better restaraunt taste (generally)= hidden fat. I would bet money that they use milk/cream vs. water to hydrate said oats + a pinch of salt to jazz it up. The first home trade I would heartily recommend before amping up your cal/fat intake with the milk/cream route is investing in old-fashioned or steel cut oats vs. the dusty instant stuff.

    14 Replies
    1. re: Pemmican

      I don't like the steel cut myself, but just get old fashioned slow cooking oats. Much better than instant. Course a dose of heavy cream probably makes for a tasty bowl...

      1. re: StriperGuy

        Agreed, you don't need steel cut oats, but I admit to being impressed at the results of overnight slow cooking of the steel cut variety.

          1. re: StriperGuy

            Sure. Works great in a crock-pot that way.

            1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

              I've heard tell of this method - does it make the oats less crunchy and barley-like? That would be a plus in my book.

              1. re: nsenada

                I suppose the longer cooking time has that effect yes. The great thing about steel cut oats is that they don't ever seem to get mushy, so they stand up to the long simmer well.

      2. re: Pemmican

        I wondered about the hidden fat possibilities (mmm oatmeal, now with bacon grease!) I often make oatmeal with some milk instead of water, but I am guessing they cook it far longer... though it is not steel cut (I use old fashioned rolled oats as do they, I think). Do I really need a crock pot, sigh. I also wondered if they added eggs.

        1. re: rscolao

          You can make do without a crock pot. Even with gas, if I want to cook super slow you can put your gas stove as low as it will go, that stack TWO of the grates on top of each other and put your pot on top.

          1. re: StriperGuy

            Striper--That's a great tip about the two grates. I've been meaning to pick up a diffuser for the burner, but now I don't have to. Thanks!

          2. re: rscolao

            The other non crockpot route that I have found works wonders--even with water as the liquid and generic. store-brand old-fashioned oats--is prepping it the night before with x cups oats to y cups water and letting it sit overnight. Even if I microwave this combo in the morning it somehow comes out "creamier" for having had the oats absorving all night...

            1. re: Pemmican

              I haven't tried it at Johnny D's but I make steel cut when I can using the Cooks illustrated method. Toast the grains in a bit of butter (maybe a 1tb for 1 cup oats) Then cook for 40 min with a mix of milk and water.

              1. re: Pemmican

                I use the Alton Brown recipe. You can find it on 1 cup steel-cut oats, toasted in 2 Tbsp butter for 2 minutes. Add 3 cups boiling water. Simmer, untouched, on low for 25 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup milk + 1/4 cup buttermilk and simmer for 10 more minutes. You can adjust the milk amounts and fat quantities based on your preferences. The recipe makes for fairly soupy oatmeal that thickens up if you keep it overnight in the fridge. I make mine on Sunday and have it all week,

            2. re: Pemmican

              The folks at Johnny D's assure me there's no milk/cream in the preparation (I've asked in the past because of an allergy).

            3. more Alton Brown: unlike nearly everything else in the world, don't salt the oatmeal until you're ready to eat it. Pentosan (a type of sugar) needs water to coax it out of the oat and into the sauce, making a creamy sauce - but salt hogs all the water and interferes with pentosans, so your oatmeal will never get quite as creamy with salt.

              I use steel-cut, and find that crock-pot overnight is creamier. I don't always prefer that, but it certainly makes a difference. Also: heavy cream.

              The salt thing drives me up the wall. I miss that seasoning!

              1. Johnny D's doesn't use steel-cut oats, though, and I don't think there is any hidden fat.

                My husband loves to start off brunch with a cup, but to me it just seems like comforting old-fashioned oatmeal. The plump raisins add a nice touch, though, and pouring some half-and-half and brown sugar on top doesn't hurt, either.

                3 Replies
                1. re: bear

                  Any more thoughts on whether is might be brand-related? Good to know they don't add any dairy (for clues) and also to talk about the non-steel-cut technique since they don't use steel cut. (I like steel cut sometimes but that's definitely not what makes theirs yummy!)

                  1. re: rscolao

                    I'd be bold and ask them. I mean, the worst that could happen is - they'll won't tell you. Maybe you could figure out a way to phrase it so they'll understand that it's just for home use...

                  2. re: bear

                    Could they possibly purée part of the oatmeal and add it back? That would make things creamier.

                  3. I have an Irish friend who complained to me about the oatmeal here in the US. She told me there was a brand from back home that she missed. I found out that it could be ordered online here (she went back home before I could surprise her with it)... but of course, I haven't been able to remember the name of the brand.

                    Wondering if that's Johnny D's secret...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: threedogs

                      I did a search and came up with the brand: Flahavan's. (I knew it wasn't McCann's) In fact, I think I remember seeing it at Stop & Shop (Swampscott location - but others might have it).

                      1. re: threedogs

                        Shaw's in Porter Square has Flahavan's in the British expat section.