I thought the slow cooker only performed magic tricks on the savory stuff. I was sure that it was committed exclusively to chicken, beef, pork, soups, stews, and making the meals I cook without its help look just one notch above ones that 'ding!' out of an easy baked oven. I had begun to believe my relationship with my slow cooker was one fantastically theatrical rendition of “Anything you can do I can do better.” Lots of vibrado, lots of big band, lots of me feeling sorry for myself when my boyfriend asked me to 'please, please, please, just put it in the slow cooker!' The truth is, the slow cooker is nothing short of a miracle. I have yet to find something that doesn't go for a six to eight hour dip in its pool and come out glistening and beautiful. I'm tempted to say the pot is a cover for a day spa. There's really no way of knowing.
So very recently, well, yesterday actually, I saw that someone had tweeted a recipe for slow cooked oats. It's brilliant, really. The idea is that the slowness of simmering over a long period of time allows each rolled oat to absorb all the liquid evenly, and to puff and soften in a way they don't do as easily elsewhere. The gluten in them is developed slowly.
Last night I combined steel cut oats, water, and a mix of dried fruits and set them on low all night while I slept. The bunch sat and stewed and spent 8 hours absorbing each other. When I lifted the lid of the slow cooker this morning I was met with the fluffiest, creamiest mush I've come across. I'd liken my bowlful to a textured pudding. Like tapioca, if that sounds like a good thing to anyone else on the planet besides me and my mom. The key is using the steel cut variety of oats, as instant and old fashioned don't hold up to such long periods of cooking time. One problem you may run into is sticking or burning along the sides and corners of the slow cooker. This is helped some by adding a tablespoon or two of butter, and I find a vigorous stir in the morning solves that. Follow my lead here and make a big batch. Portion them into individual glass containers, wrap them tightly, and then reheat one each morning for breakfast. A few tablespoons of milk or water, a good stir, and a quick zap in the microwave, and you have one hell of a healthy, hearty breakfast bowl. -Andrea Mitchell, Foodista staff and blogger at CanYouStayForDinner.com