Tuesday, February 13, 2007

World Famous in Poland Oatmeal

I’m sure you’re wondering, “What? World Famous in Poland Oatmeal?! What’s that?”

It’s two things: a reference to a line in a Mel Brooks’ movie and a recipe for oatmeal unlike any oatmeal you’ve ever eaten before.

But first, Mel Brooks. “World famous in Poland” is a line from his movie To Be Or Not To Be. If you haven’t seen this one, it ranks in the top three of all of Brooks’ films. The three being, in no particular order, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and TBONTB.

If you can name the scene and the actor who says the line, "But he's world famous in Poland," I'll personally make you my "World Famous in Poland Oatmeal."

As for the oatmeal, what I’m about to share is nothing short of divine and is a family recipe that is unlike anything you’ve ever eaten in a hot breakfast cereal. If you’re like 99% of the population, you probably grew up eating oatmeal that was a variation on either watery and soupy or thick and tacky. You probably could have used it as wallpaper paste and never known the difference. It was generally “Quick Oats” or "Instant" you were eating and it likely stuck to your ribs. Which is a shame, really. Your oatmeal experience could have been so different—and is about to be—if you’d made it like I’m about to show you. (You can click on all the pictures to enlarge them and see more detail.)

Ingredients: Quaker Old Fashioned Oats, Raisins, Butter, Sugar, Cinnamon.
Tools: One sauce or quart pan, a strainer, a stove, and a proper sense of timing.

First, go to the cereal aisle in your favorite grocery store and buy a container of Quaker OLD FASHIONED OATS (see above.) Do not buy “Quick” or “Instant” oats. They are the reason oatmeal is so ghastly and 19th century. (And don’t even get me started on those awful insta-packs with all their artificial flavor iterations. Eeewwww. Ick. Plechy, as my sister would say.) In addition to the old fashioned oats, you will also need raisins, butter, sugar, and cinnamon.

Sauce pan with raisins and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Second, fill a quart sized pan 2/3 full with water. Add a teaspoon of salt. If you’d like raisins in your oatmeal, add them now. Bring the water with the raisins to a swift boil.

This is about 2 tbsp of butter (or 3 pats),
3 heaping tablespoons of white granulated sugar,
and 1/2 teaspoon of Saigon cinnamon.

Meanwhile, as you’re waiting for the water to boil, get out a deep cereal bowl—if you’re making a single serving, or a mixing bowl—if you’re making enough for you and family or friends. For a single serving, put 1 – 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 – 3 heaping tablespoons of sugar, and a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon in the bowl. For multiple servings, double, triple, or quadruple those amounts (in other words, one fixing of ingredients per person.)

This is not quite 2 cups of oatmeal.

Once the water is boiling, scoop out two handfuls of oatmeal per person (not quite 2 cups) and dump it into the boiling water.

This is immediately after I poured the oats in the water with the raisins.
I then stir it around four or five times to make sure all the oats have equal cooking opportunity!

Let the oatmeal cook for about 15 seconds (but not more than 20 seconds) and remove from heat. Pour into a strainer to remove all of the excess water.

This is what it will look like when you've drained all of the water off.
You're really on your way to yummy now!

The oatmeal should look dry and loose, but will be cooked basically al dente thereby still retaining its firmness and not going mushy. If you cook it more than 20 seconds, you run the risk of it starting to feather and mush.

The finished product!

Transfer the oatmeal to your bowl with the butter, sugar, and cinnamon, and stir. You should get a silky, syrupy consistency and the smell of butter, sugar, and cinnamon should make you swoon. If you want milk with your oatmeal, add your desired amount.

If you look closely at the 3 o'clock position in this picture,
you'll see a little pool of syrup--
the result of the butter, sugar, and cinnamon
melting in the heat of the oats and raisins.
This is what makes this oatmeal especially divine.
Yum, yum, yum!

The perfect meal on a cold winter's morning/afternoon/evening... Eat up and eat hearty!

A note about the raisins: if you like raisins and you want them in your oatmeal, boil them with the water. This will melt the naturally occurring sugars in the raisins and make them plump, juicy, and sweet. (This is also a good tip to know when making oatmeal cookies. Believe you me, it will make a world of difference.) If you don't care for raisins--no way, no how--omit them. I haven't tried other dried fruits in this, though I imagine you could.

Another note about serving oatmeal this way: you’re probably feeling a little dubious and doubtful. You probably hate oatmeal and have nothing but psychologically scarring memories of your grandmother’s oatmeal. This is not, I repeat, NOT your grandmother’s oatmeal. I’ve converted many a friend to oatmeal using this recipe. I promise, it’s really, really good or I’ll give you your money back on your container of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats.

A special thanks to my brother, Phillip, for lending me his camera, without which this illustrated cooking lesson would not have been possible.

Photo copyrights: Janet M Kincaid


Gunfighter said...

Interesting recipe, Janet... but I have to ssay that I'd sooner eat a rock, than eat oatmeal. Don't ask me why... I love Oatmeal cookies, in fact, oatmeal raisin are my favorite cookie, but in a bowl? Can't do it.

Give me a bowl of grits any day.

JMK said...

Oh Gunfighter. Gunfighter, Gunfighter, Gunfighter...

Grits is good, I'll grant you that. But my oatmeal can hold a candle to grits any ol' day. Trust me.

Believe me, I've made converts out of bigger skeptics than you and I'd make one outta you, too! ;-) If it helps, just for you, we'll put it in a cup, instead of a bowl...

(I'm confident about few things in life, but the likability and conversion rate of this oatmeal is one thing I never, ever doubt.)

Zanne said...

That looks really delicious! YUM!

Mary Ellen said...

Damn, I just bought 2 pounds of quick oats from Sun Harvest. Will have to wait until they restock the barrel of old fashioned oats to try this recipe.

Butter pecan syrup should get me through the 2 pounds of lesser oats.

Di said...

Wha...? I never heard of cooking old-fashioned oats for 15 seconds?!? That's just weird. Does it just taste like raw soggy rolled oats??

Sounds good, except for the RAISINS. Which are PURE EVIL. :-P

JMK said...

Zanne: It is really delicious. And comforting...

ME: That's a shame. I promise, you'll never go back to quick or instant oats ever, ever again.

Di: No, actually, the shorter cooking time PREVENTS the oats from becoming soggy. They end up cooked through, but not to the point of mush. They actually maintain a firm texture. If you want to know whether this oatmeal works and is good, ask JaneAnne. I made it for her recent brunch at Jodie's this past New Year's. It was a HUGE hit. (I think even JA was surprised at how good and well-received it was. I actually caught David's sister, Kirsten, eating the last of it out of the serving bowl!) Oh, and you can make this oatmeal sans raisins. I hate raisins, too, except when they're boiled like this. Then they're juicy and sweet, rather than sandy and just plain ick.

Anonymous said...

I didn't try any (I don't think it would be very good sans dairy!), but I will confirm that it was very well received by those who did.

I had to satisfy myself with the poached salmon and green been salad and the grapefruit and avocado salad, darn.

Gunfighter said...


It is the butter... I never eat food that has been buttered.

The Oatmeal Groupie said...

Having sampled Janet's oatmeal, this recipe totally redefined my opinion of this breakfast cereal. It's the only way I make my oatmeal now. Simply wonderful! This manner of oatmeal is well worth trying and can hold its own against any la-dee-da brunch recipe.

--Another "true oatmeal recipe" convert

JMK said...

JA: I didn't realize you didn't get any of the oatmeal. What a bummer! I certainly enjoyed all of your dishes, though.

GF: We'll take the butter out just for you. Won't be as tasty, but hey, I aim to please when I cook!

Oatmeal Groupie: Glad to know you like it! Pass it on, but I get all the royalties!

HM-UK said...

Try a recipe for 'flapjacks' - I think it's about the same principle as and taste as your version of oatmeal but in a firm, snack bar kind-of-way.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

That looks so delicious. We grew up eating oatmeal so I must admit I hardly eat it now as an adult. Same with peanut butter sandwiches.

Great pics too!

JMK said...

HM_UK: Flapjacks are the "pancakes" made out of buckwheat, right? We had some of those the other day. They are definitely hearty and fill you right up.

SML: You should definitely try it this way. My dad grew up eating the reprehensible, icky, mushy oatmeal so many other have had inflicted upon them. He's the one who developed this recipe and it's like coming out of a culinary cave and into the light.

NG said...

I just tried this oatmeal version this morning and, oh my lord, you have changed oatmeal for me forever! I'm not a big fan of raisins either, but tried it with the Golden variety and found it completely unobjectionable. No longer will we have what has always been referred to in our house as "gruel".

JMK said...

NG: Yeah! Another convert to the beauty that is good oatmeal! I'll have to try it with golden raisins. I'm sure that was tasty. I'm so glad you enjoyed this and that it will change your oatmeal experience forever.

Thanks for putting some "happy" in my day!