I loved a hundred different things about my first visit to Puerto Rico that all add up to one big desire to visit again, and soon. The ocean, the mofongo, the brief afternoon rains, the way I could discover a nearly untouched stretch of beach if I walked one way from our hotel and an awesome little boutique if I walked the other–it was all incredible. I bagged up pounds of seashells and general detritus that I’d collected and stuffed those bags in the suitcase in between sea-salty tank tops and inside forever-damp shoes. Sea glass was the favorite find of the trip and had a special place in my carry-on bag so I could take it out and admire it when needed. I kept receipts from our favorite cafe and brochures from the art museum, which I slipped between pages in the brand-new sketchbook I’d bought especially for this trip (this is a travel ritual of mine). I brought so many lovely things home.
I guess it stands to reason that the one thing I couldn’t bring back to Ohio is what I ended up craving the most once arriving there. That thing is… oatmeal. I know, I know–but it was incredibly delicious. The little restaurant in our hotel would serve this dish in huge bowls alongside bottomless cups of cafe con leche and suddenly I was having oatmeal for breakfast every morning. Now, I normally don’t have much of an opinion on oatmeal other than that my husband makes it better than I can, and restaurants make it better than either of us. Now I can add to this sentence that our little hotel restaurant makes it better than any restaurant I’ve ever been to and all other restaurant oatmeals are dead to me.
Almost immediately upon coming back to Ohio, I began tinkering with a recipe for the stuff. It was creamy, not chewy. It was sweet and a little cinammony. The texture was smooth and the grains were small.
And finally, one glorious Sunday morning, I did it! I figured it out. I’d gotten a little closer each time and a couple weeks ago I hit upon the final thing that sent it over the edge into nailed-it territory. The secret was in the blending of the ingredients.
Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!
Ingredients for Two Generous Servings
1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
2 cups water
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1 can (13.5 ounces) full-fat coconut milk
3/4 cup add’l water (for use as needed)
- The night before you plan to make this recipe, pour the cup of oats and two cups of water into a bowl to soak while you sleep.
- When you’re ready to make the oatmeal, pour the soaked grains into a fine-grained mesh colander and rinse thoroughly under running water. Shake most of the excess water from the oats, but don’t worry too much about it – a little left in is just fine.
- Combine the oats, sugar, and cinnamon in your food processor or blender. Pulse six or eight times – maybe a couple more if you’d like. You want the texture to be somewhere between rice cereal and “regular” oats.
- Scoop this mixture into a pot large enough to accommodate the oat mixture plus the liquid you’ll be adding. Add about 3/4 of the can of coconut milk – enough to cover the oats. Reserve the rest in the can and top it off with warm water. Turn the burner to the medium-low setting.
- At this point you’re essentially using the risotto method in cooking these oats. Mix continuously as they come to a low simmer. As the oats thicken, add a little of the coconut milk and water mixture. As each small amount of this liquid is absorbed, add a little more. Do this until the liquid has been used up, or until your oats are very creamy – like the texture of creamy grits, or hot cereal. Keep in mind that oats thicken as they stand, so you’ll almost definitely need to use the entire amount of liquid – you may even end up adding additional water!
- Garnish with a little bit of additional cinnamon and serve up immediately!
Notes: Normally I am all for substituting ingredients to make things healthier or even a little less expensive. But, for this recipe, I would like to encourage you to make this as is to get the full experience of this delicious breakfast. This is a special treat for me, not a daily meal, so when I make it, I make it just as I described above. It’s worth it! It’s filling (the fat in the coconut milk is great for that) and comforting and just delicious. Eat it with with a cup of milky coffee and someone you love.