Maple-Cinnamon Steel-Cut Oats with Apples

My husband loves steel cut oats for breakfast.  Steel cut oats are time consuming to cook, but so worth the effort.  An easy way to enjoy them on a weekday morning is to make a big batch when you have the time and freeze individual portions.  Here’s how I do it:

Saute 1 cup steel cut oats with 2 Tbsp butter until oats begin to toast lightly and you can smell a nutty aroma (be careful not to overbrown them!)

Saute 1 cup steel cut oats with 2 Tbsp butter until oats begin to toast lightly and you can smell a nutty aroma (be careful not to overbrown them!)

You want the oats lightly toasted and nutty, not burnt-toasty

You want the oats lightly toasted and nutty, not burnt-toasty

Carefully add 3 cups of water and a pinch of Kosher salt.  Oatmeal shouldn't taste salty per say, but the right amount of salt really brings out the nuttiness of oats.

Carefully add 3 cups of water and a pinch of Kosher salt. Oatmeal shouldn’t taste salty per se, but the right amount of salt really brings out the nuttiness of oats.

Add Maple Sugar to taste - 1 Tbsp to 1/4 cup.  I add seasonings at the beginning of cooking instead of at the end.  That way the flavors permeate the oats instead of sitting on top of them (like salting pasta water before you cook it, not after).

Add Maple Sugar to taste – 1 Tbsp to 1/4 cup. I add seasonings like salt and sugar at the beginning of cooking instead of at the end. That way the flavors permeate the oats instead of sitting on top of them (like salting pasta water before you cook it, not after).

Turbinado Sugar and good ol' Grade B Maple Syrup are also excellent options for sweetening the oatmeal.

Turbinado Sugar and good ol’ Grade B Maple Syrup are also excellent options for sweetening the oatmeal.

Bring the oatmeal to a gentle boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Bring the oatmeal to a gentle boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes of simmering, the oats should have absorbed about 2/3 of the water and look like this.

After 10 minutes of simmering, the oats should have absorbed about 2/3 of the water and look like this.

Meanwhile, coarsely chop 1 cup of dried apples and grab some cinnamon.

Meanwhile, coarsely chop 1 cup of dried apples and grab some cinnamon.

This is the size you are looking for.  It's a sticky task, but don't worry about separating all the chunks - they will separate as they cook.

This is the size you are looking for. It’s a sticky task, but don’t worry about separating all the chunks – they will separate as they cook.

Stir the apples, cinnamon to taste and an additional 1/4 cup water into the oats.  If the oats already look drier than this, add another 1/4 cup or so of water.  Cover and simmer another 10 minutes.

Stir the apples, cinnamon to taste and an additional 1/4 cup water into the oats. If the oats already look drier than this, add another 1/4 cup or so of water. Cover and simmer another 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes of simmering, the oats should look like this.  Taste the oats and see how close they are to being as tender as you like them.

After 10 minutes of simmering, the oats should look like this. Taste the oats and see how close they are to being as tender as you like them.

If the oats are close to done to your liking, add 1/2 cup milk.  If they are a little too crunchy still, add 1 cup milk.  Stir, bring back to a simmer, cover and cook for an additional 5-15 minutes, or until done.

If the oats are close to done to your liking, add 1/2 cup milk. If they are still a little too crunchy, add up to 1 cup milk. Stir, bring back to a simmer, cover and cook for an additional 5-15 minutes, or until done.

When the oats are cooked to your liking, taste them one last time to adjust the salt, sugar or cinnamon levels if necessary.  The oatmeal will thicken as it cools, so adjust the texture too with a little more milk or water if it's too thick.

When the oats are cooked to your liking, taste them one last time to adjust the salt, sugar or cinnamon levels if necessary. The oatmeal will thicken as it cools, so adjust the texture too with a little more milk or water if it’s too thick.

I use 1 cup plastic Ball freezer jars to freeze individual portions of oatmeal.  They are also great for making homemade yogurt or freezing simple syrup or fresh squeezed juices.

I use 1 cup plastic Ball freezer jars to freeze individual portions of oatmeal. They are also great for making homemade yogurt or freezing simple syrup or fresh squeezed juices.

Ladle the cooled oatmeal into the jars.  A small gravy ladle works great for this task.

Ladle the cooled oatmeal into the jars. A small gravy ladle works great for this task.

Allow the jars to cool completely before placing in the fridge (for up to 2 days) or the freezer.  If you are freezing the oatmeal, be sure to leave about 3/4" of space in the jar for the oatmeal to expand as it freezes.  This recipe yields about 5 cups of oatmeal.

Allow the jars to cool completely before placing in the fridge (for up to 2 days) or the freezer. If you are freezing the oatmeal, be sure to leave about 3/4″ of space in the jar for the oatmeal to expand as it freezes. This recipe yields about 5 cups of oatmeal.

Maple-Cinnamon Steel-Cut Oats with Apples

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 cups water
  • Maple sugar, Maple syrup or Turbinado sugar to taste (1 Tbsp to 1/4 cup)
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 cup dried apples, coarsely chopped
  • cinnamon to taste (1/8 to 1/2 tsp.)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 to 1 cup milk – depending on desired consistency

Saute oats in butter until lightly toasted.  Add 3 cups water, sweetener of choice to taste, and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a gentle boil, turn heat down to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Add apples, cinnamon to taste and 1/4 cup water, bring back to a simmer, cover and cook another 10 minutes.  Add 1/2 to 1 cup milk (depending on how soft you want the finished oatmeal to be), cover and simmer on low until oats are as tender as you like them (5 to 15 minutes).  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Add more water or milk if thinner oatmeal is desired.  Let oatmeal cool and spoon into freezer-safe containers.  If freezing oatmeal, leave about 3/4 of an inch of free space at the top of the containers to allow the oatmeal to expand as it freezes.  You can either thaw the oatmeal in the fridge overnite or thaw in the microwave.  I don’t recommend heating foods in plastic containers, so we pop the thawed oatmeal into a bowl to heat.  Enjoy!

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