RECIPE

Risotto of Irish Oats

“Risotto of Irish oats? Well, I’m (sort of) Irish and Irish oats are (sort of) Irish. For enhanced Irishness, I like to use Irish Cheddar and good Irish butter like Kerrygold to finish the risotto. I suppose if you really wanted to be authentic, you could use Irish whiskey instead of the white wine, but that might be a bit much.


Whole oats are the whole grain, but they are simply not digestible as-is. All oats must have the hard outer hull removed; this, however, does not strip away the source of their nutrients.


Once hulled, there are three ways to render the oats more pleasant to eat: With steel-cut or Irish oats, the oat is cut into smaller pieces with steel blades. Since they are the least processed of oats, and still contain the whole grain including the bran, they are the most nutritious oats. With old-fashioned or rolled oats, the oat is steamed, rolled flat into flakes and sometimes steamed again, then dried. Usually the bran is removed.


Rolled oats are good for making granola or oatmeal porridge. They cook faster and aren’t as chewy as Irish oats. Don’t even think about using the third option, instant oats, because most of the nutrients that reside in the bran are removed in the very processing that makes them quick-cooking. What remains is cooked into oat oblivion.” – Seamus Mullen, author of Hero Food

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced double-smoked bacon
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1/2 pound mixed wild mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon good white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 cups steel-cut Irish oats
  • 4 cups Caldo del Día or chicken stock, heated
  • 1/2 cup Irish Cheddar cheese, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons Irish butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Warm the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat and add the bacon. Sauté until golden brown. Add the shallots and mushrooms and sauté until the shallots are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the vinegar, cook for 30 seconds, then add the white wine. Cook until the alcohol has evaporated, about 2 minutes. The mushrooms should be moist and there should still be a little liquid in the bottom of the pot.


Toss in the oats, then a ladleful of the caldo and stir with a rubber spatula. As the oats absorb the liquid, add in a bit more just as you would to make a risotto, stirring the whole time. Stirring helps the starch in the oats come together and lends a nice creamy texture to the risotto.


Once the oats are fully cooked through, about 15 minutes, fold in the cheese, then the butter. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve with a fried egg, if you like, and a sprinkling of parsley. Think of this as a main course that’s perfect paired with a salad.

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