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Oatmeal Made Easily, If Not Instantly

There's nothing better than hot oatmeal to start a cold winter day.

Especially when it's not bland, and made with a recipe from The Early Show's resident chef, Bobby Flay.

Naturally, the instant, add-water variety won't do here.

Instead, Flay serves up a recipe for Steel Cut Oatmeal with Sautéed Apples & Raisins and Bruleed Crust with Cinnamon Cream.

For the record, what, exactly, is oatmeal?

According to a definition in Samuel Johnson's 1755 "Dictionary of the English Language," oats were "a grain which, in England, is generally given to horses, but which in Scotland supports the people."

Since oats are by far the most nutritious of the cereal grasses, it would appear that the Scots were ahead of the rest of us.

Today, whole oats are still used as animal food. Humans don't usually consume them until after the oats have been cleaned, toasted, hulled and cleaned again, at which point they become oat groats, which still contain most of the original nutrients.

Oat groats can be cooked and served as cereal, or prepared in the same way as rice and used as a side dish or in a dish such as a salad or stuffing. When steamed and flattened with huge rollers, oat groats become regular rolled oats, also called old-fashioned oats. They take about 15 minutes to cook.

Quick-cooking rolled oats are groats that have been cut into several pieces before being steamed and rolled into thinner flakes. Though they cook in about five minutes, many think the flavor and texture are never quite as satisfying as with regular rolled oats.

Instant oats, however, aren't interchangeable, because they're made with cut groats that have been precooked and dried before being rolled. This precooking process softens the oat pieces so much that, after being combined with a liquid, the mixture can turn baked goods such as muffins or cookies into gooey lumps. Most instant oatmeal is packaged with salt, sugar and other flavorings.

Scotch oats, steel-cut oats and Irish oatmeal are all names for groats that have been cut into two to three pieces and not rolled. They take considerably longer to cook than rolled oats and have a decidedly chewy texture.

Oat flour is made from groats that have been ground into powder. It contains no gluten, however, so baked goods that need to rise, such as yeast breads, must be combined with a flour that does.

Oat bran is the outer casing of the oat and is particularly high in soluble fiber, thought to be a leading contender in the fight against high cholesterol.

Oat bran, groats, flour and Scotch oats are more likely to be found in health-food stores than supermarkets. Oats are high in vitamin B-1 and contain a good amount of vitamins B-2 and E.

RECIPE

Steel Cut Oatmeal with Sautéed Apples & Raisins and Bruleed Crust with Cinnamon Cream

Serves 4

Oatmeal:

1 1/4 cup steel cut Irish Oatmeal
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1. Bring 5 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat.
2. Stir in the oatmeal, salt and zest and cook until the mixture begins to thicken slightly.
3. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until cooked, about 30 minutes. 4. Add the milk and sugar and stir until combined.

Sautéed Apples & Raisins:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into medium dice
1/2 cup raisins, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and drained

1. While the oatmeal is cooking, heat butter in a medium saucepan, add the sugar and cook until melted. Add the apples and raisins and cook until the apples are soft.
3. Set aside until the oatmeal is done.

Cinnamon Cream:

1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons crème fraiche or sour cream
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Whisk together ingredients until combined. Set aside.

Assemble
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)

Method:
1. Preheat broiler.
2. Place a few tablespoons of the apple/raisin mixture in the bottom of 4 bowls or ramekins. Divide half of the oatmeal on top of the apple mixture. Place the remaining apple mixture on top of the oatmeal then top the apple mixture with the remaining oatmeal.
3. Smooth out the top of the oatmeal and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the turbinado sugar over the top of each. Place the bowls on a baking sheet and place in the broiler.
4. Broil until the sugar is golden brown and completely melted. Remove from the oven and let rest a few minutes before serving.
5. Crack the top of the sugar crust with a spoon and pour in some of the cinnamon cream. Serve immediately.

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