Monday, January 17, 2011

Cornmeal Mush & Fried Polenta Recipe


Cornmeal mush (also called polenta) has been around for centuries. It was often eaten by the American pioneers. It is even said to have been introduced to them by the Native Americans.

Cornmeal mush is a type of porridge. Porridge was made quite often in colonial times but actually originated in Europe. Porridge was commonly made with oatmeal, but with cornmeal being easily accessible in North America, it was used in its place.

I love doing historical research. I often find myself researching the ancient, medieval, renaissance and colonial eras. It is always so much fun for me to see how they used to live; their clothing, way of life and of course...the food! When I see recipes that look interesting, I can't help but to try them. I made this cornmeal mush recipe about 3 years ago and have continued to make it off and on ever since then. I love it! It is similar to cream of wheat.

Ingredients:
1 cup of white or yellow cornmeal
4 cups of water
1/4 cup of milk (optional)
a pinch of salt

Directions:

Add the cornmeal and water to a large pan and turn the stove on medium heat. Do not turn on the stove before adding the water and cornmeal to the pan. You will not want the pan to be hot when you first get started.



Allow it to simmer and stir regularly. Please be sure not to turn the heat up too high. You want this to simmer...not to boil. If it starts boiling, it will easily get lumpy! Also, This is not something that you will be able to put on the stove and walk away from for awhile. You will have to stir this consistently (and watch like a hawk!) in order to prevent lumps.

Once it thickens up a bit, and becomes solid, add in the salt. Continue to stir as it continues to thicken.




Stir in the milk once it has fully thickened. (This step is optional)



Continue to stir until the milk is fully mixed in and the mixture becomes creamy.


Once it's done, turn off the stove, remove from heat then serve.










I serve this by putting some in a bowl then adding in butter and syrup. The syrup makes it just sweet enough without being too sweet.

Some good substitutions are sugar, jam, jelly or honey. Those all taste great as well.

Another thing you can do with this is fry it. I've tried that as well and it tastes great!






To fry, just place it in a pan, smooth it out evenly then place in the refrigerator overnight or until it becomes completely solid. Cover it before placing in the refrigerator.

Once it's solid, cut it into half inch slices then fry each slice in hot oil on the stove.




I usually sprinkle each slice with sugar before frying but this is completely optional. I apply butter and syrup to this when it's fried as well, and it kind of tastes similar to french toast sticks!



I hope you enjoy this recipe. It is rich in tradition and oddly enough...it is rich in flavor too!

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