Rice cookers tackle starches that cook by absorbing hot liquid with ease; you just have to know how to use a measuring cup. Rice cookers are basically water boilers with thermostats that turn off the heat when the temperature inside gets above 212 degrees Fahrenheit. When the grains absorb the water, the temperature rises, and the cooker shuts off; it's that simple. Rice cookers make coarse grains, like steel-cut groats -- hulled oats cut with steel blades -- as easy to cook as instant oatmeal. They have a better flavor than instant oats, though, because they're minimally processed.
Portion the groats using the measuring cup supplied with your rice cooker. Add just enough groats to reach the fill line, the same as if it were rice. Add the groats to the rice cooker.
Portion 3 times as much water as groats by volume and add it to the rice cooker.
Add a pinch of salt and stir. Cover the rice cooker and set it to "cook."
Uncover the rice cooker when it alerts you that it's finished cooking. Add any finishing ingredients to the groats, such as spices, cream, milk or butter, and stir.
Serve the steel-cut groats as-is or hold them using the rice cooker's "warm" setting. If you hold the groats on "warm" longer than 10 or 15 minutes, check them to see if you have to add more water.
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- Basic rice cookers have both a "warm" setting and a "cook" setting, and these two seetings are all you need when cooking steel-cut groats. If you have a programmable rice cooker, just use the basic setting for cooking rice.
- Groats double in size during cooking, so only cook as much as your rice cooker can handle at one time.
A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.