Sunday, September 28, 2008

Baked Apple Oatmeal

Fall is my favorite time of year, and it is just around the corner. I attended the Country Applefest in Lebanon, Ohio, this weekend, and I purchased some apples and some fresh apple cider. I decided to make some baked apple oatmeal. I am a big fan of steel-cut (or Irish) oatmeal. The problem is that it takes about 30-40 minutes to cook on the stove, and I don't have that kind of time in the morning. The easiest thing to do is to make a big batch of it on Sunday, and then just reheat the oatmeal in the morning. Therefore, you can have steel cut oatmeal all week long. Steel cut oatmeal is great cooked on the stove top or, like I did here, baked in the oven. The nice thing about baking the oats in the oven is that you don't have to be standing over the stove the whole time the oatmeal is cooking. I adapted a recipe I found in one of my cookbooks called Moosewood Restaurant New Classics. It is a wonderful, mostly vegetarian, cookbook from the chefs of the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York. I can't recommend this cookbook enough.

Baked Apple Oatmeal
-serves 4
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups 2% or whole milk (or if you don't have apple cider, you can just use 3 1/2 cups milk)
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 cups apples, peeled and diced (I used one Gala and one Honey Crisp apple)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (only if you are not using the apple cider)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raisins, dried cherries, or dried cranberries (optional)
  • sliced almonds, extra cinnamon, additional milk (optional for serving)

-Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
-In a small saucepan, heat the milk and the cider on medium to medium-low heat until very hot but not quite boiling. Stir occasionally to prevent the milk from scorching. The milk and cider will look like it is separating, just stir the mixture, and it will come back together.
-Stir in the oats, apples, sugar (if using), cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cook for several minutes until the mixture returns to a near boil. Remove from heat and stir in the salt, vanilla, and dried fruit (if you are using it).
-Transfer the oatmeal to a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish, cover, and bake 30-40 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed, and the oatmeal is creamy. Throughout the baking time, stir the oatmeal a few times to distribute the oats and prevent them from sticking to the sides of the casserole dish.
-Stir well before serving, and enjoy immediately. Serve with the additional cinnamon and milk, as well as the toasted almonds, if desired.
-Alternatively, the oatmeal can be cooled completely, and placed in the refrigerator to be enjoyed all week long. If you are eating the oatmeal the next day, you may need to add some milk or water to the oatmeal because it may have thickened overnight.

Notes: This is an excellent way to start the morning. Steel cut oats are nutty and chewy, and the cider and the apples add just the right amount of sweetness to the oatmeal. I didn't add the dried fruit to my oatmeal, but I think they would be a great addition.

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