Okay, so I’ve changed my mind. What’s wrong with that? Even Linus, our wonder dog, loves the new breakfast porridge! Earlier this winter, I told readers that I was enjoying the best breakfasts I could recall eating – McCann’s Oatmeal, prepared in a method that my dad had made famous in our family, starting the porridge the night before. I mentioned this to Mark Graham over dinner. He’s one of Starbucks’ head product development chefs, and he was in Napa Valley last month to steal winemaker secrets – to find out how we make Manifesto! Sauvignon Blanc so tasty without giving it any wood. (Actually, he was here for a food conference.) Mark told us to check out his favorite oatmeal – Coach’s Oats (go to http://www.coachsoats.com), which we did. We ordered a sample, cooked it up and assessed. Hmmmm… damn good, cooks quicker than McCann’s, and has a pleasing, oat-y flavor. But it is NOT our household’s favorite new breakfast. The New Breakfast of Champions This top honor goes to a grain mixture that Carol has perfected. She calls the porridge Overnight Organic Oat Groats. It’s made with two natural grains that probably cost a tenth of what the branded cereals mentioned above cost, and tastes ten times better. I love the texture, crunch, and resistance, which the oats deliver. The short-grain brown rice adds a detectable nuttiness to the porridge. You want tasty, ultra-simple, ultra-healthy? THIS IS IT. Only two major ingredients in this stunning porridge – whole oat groats and short-grain brown rice. Add water and salt, that’s it. We usually make enough to last two days, refrigerating what we don’t eat on Day One to be revisited the next day. While you can sweeten with brown sugar, my personal preference is to add a top-quality maple syrup, which brings the porridge into symphonic harmony. Here is Carol’s recipe:
Overnight Organic Oat Groats
Many oatmeal recipes call for steel-cut oats, but this one, our new family favorite, uses whole oat groats, which are whole oat kernels that have been hulled. For the record, steel-cut oats are oat groats that have been thinly sliced lengthwise with sharp blades and, because they’re sliced, they cook faster. In this recipe, you essentially “soak” the hard oat groats overnight so that in the morning, all you have to do is heat on low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, or until you have a thick mixture that tastes delicious and sticks to your ribs. You can buy organic whole oat groats and short-grain brown rice at a heath food store or wherever they sell organic grains. I prefer to get them out of the bulk bins, where there’s a lot of turnover and grains seem very fresh.
¾ cup organic whole oat groats, rinsed and drained
¼ cup organic short-grain brown rice, rinsed and drained
4 cups filtered water
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
The night before: Combine oat groats and brown rice in heavy stainless steel saucepan. Add water and salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off heat, cover and let sit on stove overnight.
The next morning: Stir oat mixture and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring often. (At this point, I usually put some type of flame disperser on the burner so the mixture doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. If you have a gas stove, you can take the grill off another burner and place it on top of the burner you’re using to put a little more distance between the pan and the flame. Or place a pair of tongs on the burner and carefully place the saucepan on top of the tongs.)
Continue to cook, stirring often, until mixture is thick and “goopy.”
If mixture gets a little too thick, add a splash of boiling water from the teakettle and stir. Serve hot with brown sugar (my preference) or maple syrup (Jim’s preference). Makes 3 or 4 servings. Note: You can refrigerate leftovers and heat in the microwave the next day. Add a little boiling water to thin out mixture, if required. Or refrigerate in the original pan and place the pan back on the burner the next morning, adding a little bit of boiling water from the teakettle, and stirring for a few minutes until heated through.