Old-Fashioned Oatmeal with Cinnamon Apple Compote

by Chef Liz

Old-fashioned oats, unlike steel-cut oats, really take little time to cook—a mere five minutes—but many people find anything beyond the “instant” realm a little too much work during the week. Try this version on the weekend and, before long, you’ll be making time in the morning on other days to fit it into your breakfast schedule! Because they are less processed than quick-cooking oats, old-fashioned oats have more to offer in the nutrition department. Cook them in a nonstick pot to avoid scorching and sticking.
Apples make a great companion to creamy oatmeal and both the apple juice and apple compote are excellent low-glycemic choices, adding to the energy-sustaining value of oats. You can make the compote another time if you like and reheat it when serving your oatmeal. It will keep refrigerated for up to five days.
Classically, a big bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal is undeniably delicious served with a pat of butter, a spoonful of brown sugar, and a quick pouring of cream. If you can afford the calories, enjoy yourself! Otherwise, the compote topping, along with a little milk (or even vanilla soymilk), will finish off this creamy oatmeal in style.

Cinnamon Apple Compote
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup water
2 cups apple juice
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not the quick-cooking kind)
Pinch of salt
Milk for serving (optional)

1. To make the compote, melt the butter in a large skillet (preferably not nonstick) over medium heat, then add the apples, sugar, and cinnamon. Stir well to coat, add a little of the water, and allow to cook until the apples are fork tender but not mushy and all the liquid has evaporated, leaving little browned bits of apple and sugar on the bottom of the pan. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up these caramelized bits with the help of the remaining water, then swirl the pan to coat the apples, and remove from the heat. Keep warm if going to serve immediately.

2. To make the oatmeal, bring the apple juice and water to a boil in a medium-size nonstick saucepan. Add the oats and salt and stir to combine. Bring back to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

3. When the oatmeal has reached the desired consistency, remove from the stove and spoon into individual bowls. Serve with a spoonful of the apple compote and a splash of milk, if desired.
Variation: Add 2 tablespoons golden raisins to the saucepan when cooking the oatmeal for more sweetness and flavor. Top the compote with chopped walnuts, if desired.
Makes 3 to 4 servings