Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Oats and Osso Buco

O is for Oats
The lowly oats made it into this month of cooking terms because there are so many forms that oats can take. We haven’t always eaten oats; initially they were food for horses, but humans discovered they can nourish people as well, having the most food value of any of the cereal grasses.

While animals can eat them whole, oats for human consumption are cleaned, toasted, hulled, before being cleaned again. The resultant product of that process is groats. At this point, they have retained most of the nutrients of the original oats, but the degree of further processing can reduce nutritional value substantially. NEVER BUY minute/quick oats! Instead, buy less processed oats and cook for a bit longer (sometimes a goooood bit longer as with Irish oats--but worth it).

The forms that oats can take after reaching the groats stage are:
Irish Steel-Cut Oats--groats cut into 2-3 pieces; served as breakfast food or as a non-sweetened side like rice, in salad, or in stuffing mixtures; Irish steel-cut oats take about an hour to cook; I make a slow cooker version that cooks overnight--so easy!

Old-Fashion Rolled Oats--steamed groats are flattened and rolled to make thick flakes; interchangeable with Quick Oats in most recipes. I use old-fashion rolled oats in DH’s oatmeal cookies. (

Quick Oats are also steamed then rolled, but thinner so they cook more quickly. They also are not quite as nutritious.

Instant Oats--filled with sugar and cannot be used in recipes calling for oatmeal.

There is also gluten-free oat flour made from ground up groats that I use in apple crisp for my gluten-intolerant friends. I make mine by grinding old-fashion oats in my food processor.

Oat bran is the ground-up outer covering on oats and is a great high fiber source. I put it into baked goods to up the nutritional value.

Leftover cooked oatmeal? Put in muffin pan cups and freeze individual servings. I can have an oatmeal breakfast with little fuss by re-heating in the microwave.

O is for Osso Buco
This will be quick! Osso buco is Italian for “pierced bone”.

Osso buco is braised veal shanks prepared with olive oil, onions, tomatoes, anchovies, carrots, celery, lemon peel, garlic, broth, and white wine. Go to this month’s G entry for the gremolata that is traditionally served on top of the osso buco. You would serve osso buco with a side of risotto.

See why I did braise and gremolata earlier this month? Now you’re all prepared to make this dish!

Not at all a hard dish to make, osso buco does require time!


  1. I'm not big on cooking (my husband is, and I've shared your link with him), but I used to cook more often. Even now, I won't waste my time with instant oats. :-)

    1. Your instincts are right about instant oatmeal, Debi! I have some recipes for making your own "instant oatmeal" (meaning packaged for one-serving portions) that I should post. I hope your hubby finds some interesting recipes here!