food

Slow-Cooker Apple & Spice Steel Cut Oatmeal

It's a mouthful of a recipe title, I know, but I wanted to make sure to get all of the pertinent information in there.  Amazing apple and spice fall flavors?  Check.  Delicious whole grain steel cut oats?  Check.  Easy, low maintenance, slow-cooker cooking?  Oh, yes.

This is one of my favorite fall breakfasts.  The prep comes together in about fifteen minutes and makes enough for a week.  The slow-cooker does all the work while you get on with your life (or your night's sleep) and you won't believe the mouthwatering aroma that fills your home in the meantime.

A couple of notes on the finer points of this cereal:  Toasting the oats and spices, though completely optional, really adds something here, bringing out the nuttiness of the grains and deepening the flavor of the spices.  It's totally worth the extra three minutes of prep time and the saute pan you'll have to wash.

I'd also like to add that I've heard from a couple of people that while they are initially filled up by oatmeal, they become hungry shortly afterward, well before lunch time.  It's my guess that such people might not be pairing their oatmeal with extra protein.  Combining a grain with dairy and/or nuts makes it a complete protein source, providing all essential amino acids.  Along with this nutritional benefit, you'll also get the bonus of a sustained full feeling.  I add milk and toasted walnuts or pecans to my bowl of steel cut oats and find that it keeps me going for several hours.

Like many of my recipes, this one is highly adaptable.  Cook it for four hours on high to get it done during the day or on low for eight hours overnight for hot, creamy oatmeal that's ready in the morning.  Make it with an alternative milk like almond or coconut and substitute oil for the butter to make dairy-free cereal or use gluten-free oats if that's your jam.  Chop the apples into large chunks for big pockets of fruit flavor or grate them for a smooth texture.  Substitute another dried fruit for the golden raisins or leave them out completely.  Go nuts with your favorite oatmeal toppings; don't let my preferences hold you back.  Finally, enjoy this fresh from the crock or refrigerate and reheat individual portions with an extra splash of water, either on the stovetop or in the microwave, all week long.

This oatmeal is so good on a crisp morning.  The cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves are warming; the golden raisins are plump and juicy; the apples are at their peak.  Happy fall, everyone.  Enjoy the flavors of the season!

Slow-Cooker Apple & Spice Steel Cut Oatmeal

makes 8 servings

  • 3 apples, peeled and cut to your liking
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups milk of your choice
  • 6 cups water
  • optional: toasted nuts and milk to serve

Place the apple pieces in the bottom of a slow-cooker crock.  Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the oats and spices and toast, stirring regularly, for three minutes or until the aromas are released.  Pour this mixture on top of the apples.  Add the salt, raisins, syrup, vanilla, milk and water and stir.  Place the lid on the crock and cook on high for four hours or on low for eight hours.

Notes:

  • Keeps for a week in the refrigerator in an airtight container.  Reheat portions with a splash of water on the stovetop over low heat, stirring constantly, or in the microwave. 
  • Feel free to add extra maple syrup or brown sugar on top, though this cereal doesn't need any additional sweetness for my taste.