OK, “risotto” derives from the Italian word for rice. But other grains can play too. And making a risotto-like dish from oatmeal takes less time and effort than using traditional rice.
This Curried Oatmeal Risotto also happens to make a terrific side dish for roast meat or fowl. It even has enough flavor to stand alone as a first course.
Savory oatmeal? Who knew?
Recipe: Curried Oatmeal Risotto
We got the idea for this dish years ago from Mark Bittman’s column in the New York Times, around the time he began his vegan-before-six (o’clock) diet and was trying to figure out how to incorporate oatmeal into breakfast without serving it as a traditional cereal (that is, sweetened with sugar and swimming in milk). He developed some interesting Asian-flavored recipes using oatmeal – which, alas, we didn’t record (but did take note of). So his experiments inspired ours.
We use old-fashioned rolled oats (not “instant” or “quick cooking”) for this dish. Their faint nutty taste blends well with the other flavorings in this recipe.
We use minced ginger, garlic, and jalapeño in this dish. We chop these by hand – but you could just whirl them in a mini food processor if you prefer.
Prep time for this dish is 5 to 10 minutes (depending on how proficient you are with a knife). Cooking time adds another 10 to 15 minutes.
This dish yields 3 to 4 side-dish servings. Or 2 small first-course servings.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ~½ bunch thinly sliced scallions (remove the root ends and wash the scallions thoroughly before slicing)
- salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- ~1 teaspoon peeled, minced ginger
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, cleaned and finely minced
- 1 teaspoon curry powder (or more to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1½ cups warm chicken stock (see Notes; may substitute vegetable stock or water)
- jalapeño rounds for garnish (optional)
- Melt the butter in a medium-sized (about 9-inch) frying pan, preferably nonstick. When the butter is hot, add the scallions. Season with salt, then sauté until the scallions are just tender (3 to 4 minutes).
- Add the ginger, garlic, and jalapeño. Cook for 1 minute. Add the curry powder and turmeric. Stir to combine. Add the oats. Stir to combine with the other ingredients. Then toast everything in the pan for 1 minute, stirring often.
- Add the chicken stock. Stir to combine, then cook until all the liquid is absorbed (5 to 7 minutes – see Notes). Stir occasionally as the oatmeal cooks.
- Taste the dish and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Then serve and enjoy, garnishing each dish with a jalapeño round if you wish.
- You can vary ingredient quantities in this recipe to suit your taste.
- Or substitute ingredients. A few tablespoons of diced red onion would make a dandy substitute for scallions, for example.
- It’s also easy to double the size of this recipe.
- Why use old-fashioned oats rather than “instant” or “quick” oats? Because they take longer to cook – which is a virtue in this case. Longer cooking lets the oats absorb the chicken stock more completely, giving the dish better flavor.
- You can warm the chicken stock by placing it in a Pyrex measuring cup, then microwaving it for a couple of minutes. We often add the turmeric to the chicken stock instead of adding it to the frying pan (Step 2) because we like how it colors and flavors the stock.
- We prefer this dish to be fairly dry, so we cook it until all the stock is absorbed (and any excess evaporates). If you like a more liquidy dish, just cook it until the oatmeal reaches the consistency you prefer.
- Want extra flavor and color? Try stirring a few tablespoons of chopped cilantro into the cooked oatmeal right before serving.
- This dish will be as tender as traditional risotto, but its texture will be a bit more gummy. Because oatmeal.
- Risotto traditionally is made from short-grained arborio rice. But other grains offer an interesting twist on the theme. In addition to oatmeal, you could try barley, wheat berries, or quinoa.
- We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (because the crystals pack a measure less tightly). If you’re using table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
“Is this an April Fool’s joke?” asked Mrs. Kitchen Riffs as she eyed her plate. “Oatmeal? As risotto? With curry flavors?”
“Why not?” I said. “It’s fun to experiment. And combining curry with porridge gives us courage.”
“That’s terrible, even by your standards,” said Mrs K R.
“I do like to push the envelope,” I said. “Or the frying pun, in this case.”
“I’m not usually fond of oatmeal,” said Mrs K R. “Due to my post-Haggis stress disorder. But this isn’t bad.”
OK. With that, we’ll curry on.
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