First up is Atole de Avena, my all-time favorite atole. Ever! Unlike most atoles that are thickened with either cornstarch or masa harina, Atole de Avena is thickened with oats. For those of you unfamiliar with traditional Mexican atoles, think of Atole de Avena as a thin, cinnamon infused oatmeal.
Atole de Avena and I go way back. I remember Gramm making Atole de Avena every once and a while when I was little, but it's actually Pappy's atole that I remember the most. Pappy (my grandfather) loved making atole almost as much as he loved baking empanadas (his specialty). Pappy would make Atole de Avena whenever I was feeling sick, on gloomy rainy days, Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings, and anytime he was feeling bored and restless. And I was more than happy to drink a mug or two every time he made it.
Pappy continued to make Atole de Avena for me even after I got married. Atole de Avena is believed to be good for nursing mothers, so when Pappy stayed with Hubby and I to help us around the house after Hope (my eldest) was born, he made me Atole de Avena every single day for the 40 days he stayed with us. He did the same after Nick was born. And once we moved to Mexico my suegra (mother-in-law) was the one to make me Atole de Avena during my cuarentenas (the first 40 days postpartum) after Ashley and Jack were born.
But you don't have to be a new mom to be able to enjoy a cup of Atole de Avena. You can have it for breakfast, a late-night snack, or anytime you're craving something warm and comforting to drink. Like most Mexican comfort food dishes, there is no wrong way to prepare Atole de Avena. Every family has their own unique way of making it. For instance, Hubby's grandmother makes her Atole de Avena with only water, no milk. I like to grind my oats slightly before making my Atole de Avena, but not everybody does that. My suegra liked to use the leftover ground oats from her Agua de Avena (Oat Agua Fresca) to make her Atole de Avena. And my grandmother liked to add a pat of butter to her Atole de Avena just like she did with her oatmeal.
No matter how you choose to make your Atole de Avena, I'm sure you'll agree that it's a comforting drink perfect for fall and winter.
Atole de Avena
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 4 cups water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 6 cups milk
- 1 cup granulated sugar
Pulse the old-fashioned oats in a blender or food processor for 10 to 15 seconds, just long enough to break up the oats. In a 3-quart stockpot or dutch oven bring the oats, water, cinnamon stick, and salt to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the oats have started to thicken and absorbed most of the water. Stir in the milk and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the atole has started to thicken. Sweeten with granulated sugar and let simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and ladle into mugs. Serve with Mexican pan dulce (pastries). Enjoy!