I don’t skip breakfast (or any meal, for that matter); in fact it’s my growling stomach that motivates me out of bed and into the kitchen every morning.
Many days I like to make oatmeal with cherries or blueberries, with some homemade almond milk. Otherwise, I’m a person in search of savories and a soft-boiled or poached egg is usually my go-to. Going out for breakfast doesn’t happen often either, but last time I had a friend visiting from out of town I took her to one of my favorite local restaurants, where we had brunch on a Sunday morning.
One of the specials on the menu that day were steel cut oats with olive oil and black pepper; the unexpected twist on a usually sweet breakfast preparation made me very happy. I wondered why I didn’t cook steel cut oats at home regularly..hmm, let’s see. Could it be that 2 minutes in the microwave for rolled oats versus more than 10 times that much on the stovetop has something to do with it? Um, yeah.
But after experimenting on a few cold mornings recently, I found that steel cut oats can take under 30 minutes to cook – totally agreeable, even for someone with a hollow, hungry stomach. Adding a poached egg and Pecorino cheese makes this one a new favorite for me. Plus, a batch can be cooked ahead and reheated in a microwave to have on multiple mornings (stir in a little water first).
When I made the poached eggs for this post, I tried a method from Dorie Greenspan for soft-boiling eggs in little plastic-wrapped bundles – you can make perfectly cooked eggs with neat, ruffly shapes and a not-too runny yolk (exactly 5 minutes cooking time). It’s a great trick, but also an extra step I might try on weekend mornings when there’s more time to fuss.
You can make the oats ahead of time and refrigerate. Stir in a little water and reheat.
- 1 cup steel cut oats
- Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons best quality extra-virgin olive oil
- A hunk of Pecorino Romano cheese
- Fresh, coarsely cracked black pepper
- 3 - 4 eggs, depending on servings
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- Put the oats and 3 1/2 cups water into a small saucepan along with 1/2 teaspoon salt; use 4 cups if you prefer a more porridgey texture. Bring to a boil, stir the oats, then lower heat to a slow simmer.
- Cook until most of the water is absorbed (stirring occasionally) and the oats begin to get creamy, 25 - 30 minutes (they won't be totally soft at this point, but pleasantly chewy).
- Remove from the heat and stir in the olive oil. Grate enough of the Pecorino on the fine side of a grater or Microplane to make 1/4 cup and stir it in; add about 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
- When the oats are almost ready, bring a small skillet of water to a boil with the vinegar - a non-stick pan makes for easier cleaning. Crack the eggs into the water and adjust the heat down from a boil to a simmer. Cook the eggs until they are done to your liking, about 5 minutes for softly-set yolks.
- Serve the oats with a poached egg on top. Use a swivel vegetable peeler to shave additional Pecorino over the top.