These are the last days of winter. Embrace lazy mornings, long weekends, the general coziness of a day without an agenda, and this recipe for baked oatmeal dressed in red with a fruit compote. Stovetop oatmeal gets a bad rap, but baking oats brings out their nutty characteristics, encourages a bit of caramelization, and ensures a porridge that's more light than gloppy. This recipe — in honor of Eater's first ever Breakfast Week — comes to us as a sneak peek from America's Best Breakfasts: Favorite Local Recipes from Coast to Coast by Lee Brian Schrager and Adeena Sussman (Clarkson Potter), which lands in book stores this April, and is available for pre-ordering now.
Each recipe in the book is from a different mom and pop operation and speaks to the essence of breakfast in America: From smoked fish to fried eggs to hearty oat porridge there's a lot to love about breakfast in the U.S. Not into raspberries? Substitute nearly any fruit: apples, bananas, pears, or blueberries will work well too.
Baked Oatmeal with Raspberry Compote and Candied Pecans
Half & Half, St. Louis, MO
We never looked at a bowl of oatmeal the same way again after sampling the fruity, chewy, and entirely satisfying version made at Half & Half, a cozy-chic spot in suburban Clayton. Truly a meal in a mug, it starts with good old-fashioned rolled oats cooked slow and low to perfection. Berry compote, candied nuts, fresh fruit, and maple syrup top off the grains. We recommend you add grapes to the mix; heating them for a few minutes brings out their juicy sweetness.
¼ cup pecans
½ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats, such as Bob's Red Mill
2½ cups whole milk
1½ cups raspberries, fresh or frozen and thawed
1 cup fresh fruit (such as grapes, blueberries, blackberries, quartered strawberries)
Maple syrup, for serving
• In a small skillet over medium-low heat, combine the pecans, 1⁄3 cup of the sugar, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts into a caramel, 3 minutes. Add the butter carefully and swirl the skillet to coat the pecans well. Cool slightly, then transfer the pecans to a cutting board and roughly chop. Set aside.
• In a medium saucepan, bring the oats, milk, 2½ cups water, and ¾ teaspoon salt to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the oats are tender and have absorbed all of the liquid, 20 minutes.
• While the oats are cooking, in a small saucepan, gently simmer the raspberries with the rest of the sugar and a pinch of salt until the raspberries release their juices and thicken slightly without losing their shape, 3 to 4 minutes. Cover to keep warm.
• Preheat the oven to 450°F. Divide the warm cooked oatmeal among 4 ovenproof coffee mugs or bowls. Top with raspberry compote and fresh fruit. Arrange the mugs on a baking sheet and bake until bubbly, 9 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, top with the pecans and drizzle with maple syrup, then submerge the pecans in the oatmeal using a knife or chopstick. Serve each mug on a saucer to avoid burning your hands.