That’s right, oatmeal!
OK you guys, here’s the deal. After giving oatmeal a serious trash-talking in this post last month, I felt kind of bad. Because, let’s be honest, is it oatmeal’s fault that I dislike it so much every time I eat it? Or is it maybe mine for not figuring out how to prepare it in a way that I will actually enjoy? As much as I hate to admit it, I think it might be the latter. And so, after acknowledging my own shortcomings, I set out on a mission. A mission to make oatmeal that I would actually enjoy. And I succeeded. Mega big time.
I realized that the main problem I was running into was that I was adding too much water. Every recipe for steel cut oats that I’d seen recommended a ratio of 1:3 oats to liquid. I, however, discovered that I prefer 1:2. This leaves the oats with a little bit of texture, and solves the bowl-of-mushness that would upset me, especially when they started to cool down. (Warm mush is always better than cold mush.)
Once I got the texture thing figured out, I started playing around with adding in more savory ingredients. Another problem I had with oatmeal in the past is that I would drown it in a combination of salt and maple syrup. I’d wind up with a bowl of mush that was both too salty and too sweet, and it became nauseating pretty quickly. But when I began leaving out the sweet stuff and instead adding veggies, some salt, and a little bit of cheese, things started to get seriously good.
After I found my ideal flavor combination, I decided to try one final thing to really take it to the next level: baking. Now, I’ll admit that this wouldn’t be something I’d do on a regular basis. When I’m hungry for breakfast, it needs to be FOOD TIME NOW, and I just barely have the patience to cook steel cut oats and then wait for them to cool so I don’t burn my mouth, let alone bear an additional fifteen minutes of food-not-in-face time. But when you have those extra minutes to spare, this is so, so worth it, especially if you crack a couple eggs in there too. You get a crispy oatmeal top and some serious runny eggy goodness. It’s ridiculously delicious.
For this particular dish, I used bacon, spinach (sauteed in leftover bacon fat — aw yeah), and corn, with just a little bit of cheddar cheese. Lots of other veggies would be equally great, like kale, asparagus, mushrooms, etc. You can always leave out the bacon to make it vegetarian friendly, and even leave out the cheese and eggs to make it vegan. All in all, it’s a very versatile dish, and a tasty one too. Hurray for oatmeal redemption!
Savory Baked Oatmeal Skillet
- 1 cup of steel-cut oats
- 2 cups of water
- two pinches of kosher salt
- 3 strips of bacon
- 1 medium bunch of spinach
- 1/2 cup of corn (fresh or frozen)
- 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated
- 2 eggs
Preheat oven to 450°.
Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add oatmeal and reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the water has been absorbed. Stir in salt.
While oatmeal is cooking, fry bacon in a skillet, then remove and let cool. Reserve about half of the bacon fat in the pan. Reheat pan on medium-low heat, and add spinach. Saute until wilted, then transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop.
Combine oatmeal, bacon, spinach, and corn in a small cast iron skillet. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over top, then make two wells on each side of the pan. Crack one egg into each well.
Bake for 8–10 minutes, or until whites are just set and yolks are still soft.