I’ve been experimenting with a couple of standard recipes lately and thought I’d give you an update.
First is the classic Beanie Weenie recipe from the family cookbook. These beans are always, in my opinion, much better the next day when they’ve thickened considerably. Unfortunately, I don’t want to make Beanie Weenies a day ahead and I don’t like eating BBQ soup with some beans and smoked sausage (I substitute for hotdogs). I could either double the amount of beans and sausage and leave the liquid the same, or I could reduce the liquid. Since the quantity is fine, I went with the latter option.
This time, I reduced the BBQ sauce from 1.5 cups to 1 cup, and instead of 1 cup of brown sugar, I reduced to ½ cup. For plain BBQ beans, a sweater bean is fine but for a dinner I could save myself the sugar by halving the amount. Because I’ve made this mistake before, I kept the liquid smoke proportionate to the sugar and started with ½ TBS and added to taste from there.
These Beanie Weenies were more in line with what I like for dinner. They weren’t nearly as runny as previous versions, but neither were they the thickness of cold leftovers. There was definitely less sugar but I don’t think that’s something you really miss in a soup/stew mix. I’ll continue to use two variations depending on how much time I have and what the ultimate purpose will be.
Next I tackled steel-cut oatmeal in a Crockpot. In the past, I’ve generally made the oats on the stove in a big batch on Sundays. As you know, cooking on the stovetop takes at least 30 minutes, and quite honestly, the past few weekends I haven’t wanted to spend any time in the kitchen. And why couldn’t you use a Crockpot? It seems reasonable.
I turned to Google and right away got the answer I was looking for, complete with pictures, from this blog. Use the Crockpot as a water bath! This eliminates the problem Andrea had where the oats formed a crusty shell around the pot.
The method is simple to execute. Combine the oats, water and fruit optional (proportions are the same as the package instructions) in a bowl that will fit inside the Crockpot. Pour water between the oats bowl and the crock, about half-way up the side of the oats bowl. Set the crock on low and walk away for 7-9 hours.
I turned mine off at about the 6.5-7 hour mark and tested. The oats were the softest I’ve ever cooked them, but substantial. The texture was similar to old-fashioned oats and they bordered on creamy. I dished them into individual Tupperware containers and stored in the fridge.
Here is where I need your help. This morning on re-heating, the oats were a bit too gelatinous and gluey. They really didn’t have a spoon-able quality; it was more like eating bread pudding. The texture was mushy yet firm. I know, this is hard to explain. I’m wondering if it would be better if I reheated with some soy milk (or regular cow-juice for some folks) and stirred it around a bit – that might make it too watery but perhaps it would loosen it up a bit more.
The other option would be to cook for less time, even undercook it, since it seems to continue cooking/absorbing water even as it cools in the fridge. I used to do that with the stovetop version as I found with the cooling and reheating process it could actually overcook.
As it stands, the crock method is extremely easy and it seems to make a delicious bowl if you were to set it before bed and eat in the morning. I suppose I could also go with that method – make one bowl at a time overnight. Anyway, if you are one of my steel-cut oats eating, Crockpot using friends or family (and who haven’t I converted at this point?) and you test this method, would you please report back your findings and hopefully, with the power of collective thinking, we can come up with the precise times and methods for this.