Sunday Morning Breakfast: Irish Oatmeal

A while back, I posted a Saturday morning breakfast post in which I made biscuits and gravy for one.  That’s a pretty typical Saturday morning breakfast in the Chattavore house.  Biscuits and gravy, pancakes, homemade waffles, French toast, and the occasional eggs Benedict or breakfast burrito are what’s on the menu on Saturday morning, when we have all the time in the world.  We can get up and take our time getting breakfast ready, because we usually have nowhere to be and can leave the house whenever we want.

Sundays are a different story.  Philip is on the worship team at our church, and the majority of Sunday mornings he is out of the house by 8:30.  When he isn’t, we sleep in a little and get to church by 10:30, so still…not an unlimited amount of time.  So, our typical Sunday morning breakfast is Irish oatmeal.

I am not a huge fan of regular old-fashioned or rolled oats.  They are just a little too mushy or gummy for me, no matter how I cook them or what I put in them.  They never work for me.  Irish oatmeal, on the other hand, is a little chewy without being gummy.  If you have never had Irish oatmeal, it looks very different from the oatmeal that comes in the little cardboard cylinders at the grocery store.  I am honestly not sure if Bi-lo even sells slow-cooking Irish oats….I know they sell a quick-cooking version, but we all know those have less nutritional value than their slower-cooking counterpart.  Publix does sell them, but they are fairly expensive.  The way to do this is to buy the Irish oats in the bulk bin at Greenlife.  I can’t think of the price off the top of my head, but it’s less than $2.00 per pound.  We bought a canister of McCann’s a long time ago and just keep filling it up from the bulk bin.  Bulk bins are a wonderful thing.  If you have never shopped from a bulk bin, I encourage you to go to Greenlife or Earth Fare (or if you don’t live in Chattanooga, Whole Foods or whatever natural or organic grocery store is nearest to you) and try it.  All grocery stores should have bulk bins.  Let’s start a movement!

Anyway, back to what I was saying before.  You are not likely to recognize Irish oats as oatmeal if you have never seen them before.  They are tiny little pebbles, about the size of grape nuts.  They are cut, rather than pressed like regular (or rolled) oats are.  The “rolled” means that the oats have been rolled in a press.  That’s all.  Irish oats are also known as “pinhead” oats, I guess because they are about the size of a pin head, and that’s what I like to call them because I think of this guy and that makes me laugh.

Irish oats take longer than old-fashioned oats, and certainly a lot longer than instant, but with a little forethought it’s totally worth it.  The recipe here serves two, but is easily multiplied to make as many servings as you need.  You are going to want to start the night before if you want to follow my directions here, although it can be made from start to finish in the morning….it just takes a lot longer (25-30 minutes).

Start by boiling two cups of water.  Once the water boils, stir in 2/3 cup of pinhead (hahahaha) oats and turn the heat off.  Put the lid on the pan, and leave it to sit overnight.  By the way, if you buy the canister of McCann’s it tells you to use 1/2 cup of oats to every 2 cups of water, but I like the thickness that the extra little bit gives.

In the morning, remove the lid.  You can see that the oats have changed drastically.  Technically, you could heat this just till it’s warm enough to eat and go with it, but there a little too much liquid in there for me, so I take a little extra time to cook these a little longer.  If you want to do it my way, turn the heat to medium.  Stir frequently.  The oats will eventually come to a simmer; just cook and stir until they reach a consistency that you like.

In the meantime, chop up some pecans.  I like to keep bags of pecans in my freezer so I always have them on hand.  Heat a skillet over medium heat and throw in the chopped pecans.  Cook and stir these until they are lightly browned and fragrant (don’t you love my fancy words?  I’m so elegant.).  Watch these closely or they’ll burn before you know it!

Once the oats have reached the consistency you want and the nuts have toasted sufficiently, pour the nuts into the oats.  Add some half and half or milk (we like to go for the gusto around here-the McCann’s canister says the traditional way to eat them is with buttermilk but in my house buttermilk is for baking and that’s about it), brown sugar or maple syrup, a good pinch of salt, and any other seasoning you like.  We add dried cranberries or dried cherries, and I like to put about 1/4 of a teaspoon of orange extract in mine.  Philip leaves the orange out…..but it’s gooooooood.

And that’s how Sunday morning breakfast is done around here!

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