Editor’s Note: Mark Messer, copy editor at the Mount Desert Islander newspaper, is a word and language geek who grew up in Ellsworth. He also likes to play around in the kitchen.
Healthy diet and exercise are the keys to reaching a healthy weight. As obvious as that is, years ago, I was convinced that I could achieve my health goals with diet alone. To do so, I cut sugars and other heavily processed carbs from my diet. I was getting tired of eggs and bacon for breakfast — I know, woe is me — and had put my favorite breakfast oatmeal back in the cupboard.
I mentioned this while visiting my friend Lynn Stone, of Sorrento and San Francisco, and she suggested that I start my day with savory oats. Though at first, I couldn’t imagine enjoying them without maple syrup or brown sugar, she reasoned that oats are a grain, just like rice and wheat, and that there was no reason not to eat them as a savory dish instead of sweet for breakfast or any meal.
“Just add some butter and salt to the cooked oatmeal,” she suggested. And she was right.
So in the fall, as I was cooking up sausages so I could use the pan drippings to make gravy for some yummy turkey and stuffing pot-stickers, inspiration struck to make savory sausage oats for breakfast. I used rolled oats, but as long as you follow the instructions, you could use steel-cut oats or groats, both of which will add considerably to the cooking time.
The beauty of this dish is that it’s very adaptable. A quick look in your fridge likely will reveal lots of delicious ingredients you could use instead of sausage, cheese and egg. No sausage? Use bacon or tempeh. No egg? No big deal. Almost any cheese will do, too.
Savory Sausage Oats
½ cup rolled oats
1 cup water
a pinch of salt
2 cooked, chopped breakfast sausage links
¼ cup of shredded Cheddar cheese
Sriracha hot sauce and other seasonings to taste
Cook the oats as follows. Add a pinch of salt and the water to a small saucepan, cover, then put over a high flame. When it boils, reduce the heat to medium, stir in the oats, then cook them, covered, for five or six minutes, stirring occasionally.
As the oats are nearly finished cooking, stir in the chopped sausage and the egg. The egg is mixed into the oats to give them a smooth, creamy texture, but it would make a more glamorous presentation to fry the egg sunny side up, then slide it atop the sausage oats.
Keep the pot on the heat and stir occasionally till the egg is well mixed and cooked through. As the oats are already hot, this may take as little as a minute. Spoon the hot oat mixture into a bowl and top with the shredded cheese and hot sauce, or whatever seasonings you choose.
Stir it all up to help the cheese melt, et voila! A delicious, quick new way to eat oats for breakfast … or any meal.
Note: As you can see, I also added a bit of pan-fried shredded cabbage that I was preparing for another use. Some kimchee would add texture and flavor to this dish, too.