Oatmeal or Other Hot Cereal

Oatmeal or Other Hot Cereal

You cook all hot cereals the same, adjusting the water so they’re creamy, thick, or in between.
TIME 15 minutes
MAKES 2 servings
Pinch salt
1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1 tablespoon butter, optional
Maple syrup, sugar, or honey, to taste
Milk, cream, or half-and-half, optional
½ cup raisins or any chopped dried fruit or fresh fruit, optional
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional


1. Put 2¼ cups water in a medium saucepan with the salt and the oats and turn the heat to high. When the water boils, turn the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the water is just absorbed and big bubbles are popping on the surface, about 5 minutes. Stir in the butter if you’re using it, cover the pan, and remove it from the heat.

2. Five minutes later, uncover the pan and stir. Drizzle or sprinkle on a little sweetener, pour in a splash of milk, and sprinkle on the fruit and cinnamon, as you like. Stir, taste, add more sweetener if necessary, and serve.

Grits: This southern favorite is made with ground dried hominy, a kind
of cornmeal with a tortillalike taste. You can find it—called simply grits—in most supermarkets; again, don’t buy the instant kind. In Step 1, use grits instead of the oatmeal and increase the water to 2½ cups. Before turning on the heat, whisk the mixture until it’s smooth and free of lumps. Turn the heat to medium-high, whisking frequently, until it barely comes to a boil. Lower the heat so that the mixture bubbles gently and cook, whisking frequently, until it gets thick, with big, plopping bubbles, 10 to 15 minutes. (You want it to stay soupy as it cooks, so add water—2 tablespoons at a time—as necessary.) Then add the butter, cover, and let rest as described in the recipe. You can sweeten grits or add a handful of grated cheddar cheese.

Do not—I repeat—do not use instant oatmeal here or anywhere else. It has almost no flavor and saves very little time.

You can cook steel-cut oats and other grains—like bulgur, quinoa, or cornmeal— using the same recipe; just allow extra time. Keep cooking, stirring, and tasting, adding water if the mixture becomes too thick, until the grains become tender.

To make sure you have hot cereal on hand whenever you want it, triple this recipe; keep whatever is left in the fridge for up to a week. Then just warm some in the microwave.

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