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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Grains in a jar

Few things are quite as comforting as oats on a cold morning. Well, maybe not that oversweetened pasty microwaved glue that most people think of as oats.

The oat grain itself, the groat, cooks up into a chewy, nutty, rib sticking meal, with little more than water, and carries more character than a porridge, although not quite as dry as a pilaf. Problem is, the groat is so well bound that it takes a long time to puff up, and the sticky nature of the cooking process runs the risk of burning. Procedures like steel cutting, where the groat is chopped, to rolling, are all intended to speed up the cooking process, but if you ask me, the groat is the poster child of low and slow cooking. Particularly for breakfast.

I've taken to cooking groats in jars. You can use ramekins or Mason jars, but I found plain old recycled jam jars to be just fine. Put some washed groats at the bottom of the jar, and about 3 times as much water on top. You can substitute a bit of milk or cream for the water. Heck, I'm thinking chicken stock, miso, or dashi. Sweeten if you wish, or put in herbs, or other spices. Put the whole jar in a slow cooker, and pour hot water outside, as much as you can, until about half an inch from the top of the jar. You can actually get away with less, but it depends on the size of your jar.

Turn it on, and go to bed. In the morning, take the jars out. If you aren't eating it right away, put the jar lid on, cool, and store in the fridge or freezer. The rest, stir it up, and enjoy.

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