I am going to try to tell you exactly how I feel about seared/fried oatmeal...in a word? Giddy. Seared oatmeal is deceptively delicious...it's chewy, has a nutty taste from being seared until crispy on the outside in butter and IF there are any leftovers they are great smeared with peanut butter for a quick snack. Make no mistake, this is not your average oatmeal...and it's definitely not quick to make...in fact, this needs to be made the day before you want to eat it, which works perfectly if you're going to, say, serve it on Easter morning, you know, to start your holiday off with a round of applause! And I recommend you do serve it on Easter, or any other day that is special, because this IS special and worthy of a special day!
Along with starting this the day before, you're going to dirty three pans...yes three, just deal with it. And there is no way around that so don't even think of cheating and forgoing one of the three necessary pans of goodness!
The first pan is a cider reduction. Simple enough, you just boil down cider until it is syrupy and has a more pronounced, stronger cider flavor...this will be drizzled over the top of your Oatmeal and fruit while you suppress a tiny squeal of delight. The second pan is dried fruit that is boiled with brown sugar into submission. The fruit will plump right up, making every bite something to write home about. Both the cider and the fruit take about 20 minutes to reduce/plump so you could make this the morning you want to serve it, but holiday mornings are usually filled with a lot of things, so save yourself the trouble and make it the day before. The third pan is, of course, the oatmeal and you definitely need to make this the day before because it needs to set and chill and become slice-able.
You're going to want to use really good steel cut oats, I used an okay brand and didn't notice until I went to use them that I had purchased Quick Cook oats...they turned out okay but next time I will use the regular oats.
The oatmeal, once set, is sliced into triangles and then seared/fried in a skillet of hot butter, which will eventually turn into browned butter and those little triangles of oatmeal then turn into crack crispy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside-slices of nutty, chewy goodness! That's a mouthful, in more ways than one!
Seared Oatmeal with Fruit Compote - Adapted from Tara Parker-Pope
For the Syrup:
2 cups apple cider
For the Compote:
2 cups water
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I did not use the cinnamon, it's optional)
1 (7 oz.) package of dried mixed fruit bits
For the Oatmeal:
1 cup milk
3 cups water
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups steel-cut (Irish) oats (long-cooking works best)
1/4 cup butter, divided
To make syrup: Bring cider to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until reduced to 1/3 cup; set aside.
To make compote: Combine 2 cups water, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, if using, and dried fruit in a medium saucepan; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally.
To make the oatmeal: Combine 3 cups water, 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, if using, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat; stir in oats. Cook oatmeal until done, according to package directions. Spoon oatmeal into an 11x7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; cool to room temperature. Cover and chill at least 1 hour or until set, or overnight. Using a sharp knife, cut oatmeal into 8 equal rectangles; cut each rectangle in half diagonally to form 16 triangles.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 8 oatmeal triangles; cook 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown with slightly seared edges. Remove from pan; keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining 2 tablespoons butter and oatmeal triangles. Place 2 oatmeal triangles on each plate, top each serving with 3 1/2 tablespoons fruit compote and about 2 teaspoons of the cider syrup, drizzled over top. Serves 8.