Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cornmeal Mush For Breakfast

Before you could buy it in the grocery store and before polenta (Italian word) was a fashionable thing to serve, we made cornmeal mush and fried it – I assume it was a popular depression era food.  The other day I suggested to Bev that we buy some of the packaged variety, but she quickly said she preferred homemade so off to the kitchen I went.

Since my last couple of batches turned out too watery, I did a little web search to get the cornmeal to water proportions and the cooking time.  I settled on this recipe from Taste Of Home.

4 cups water, divided
1 cup cornmeal (your favorite color)
1 teaspoon salt

Boil 3 cups water and add salt. Combine well the remaining water with cornmeal (this will prevent lumping); add to boiling water. Stir until mixture returns to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally (not a chance - see notes below).

Pour into a greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pan (or line the pan with plastic wrap). Chill for 8 hours or overnight.

After chilling run something around the edges to be sure it isn’t sticking then invert pan on a cutting board (or just lift it out by the plastic wrap but still invert as the crusty top side needs to be against the cutting board for slicing.  

Notes: The key to making this is the final water content and if made correctly, it’s a little bit rubbery and can be held by one end without pulling apart – mine passed this test.  It can also be fried without flour to hold it together – it passed this test as well.

However, don’t believe the second sentence in instruction 1 for a second – unless you want to jack hammer the stuck part from the bottom of the pan, it must be stirred very often.  I left the lid off and cooked it for 45 minutes enjoying the little volcano’s of steam as they erupted. 

I usually try to make it when I’m in the kitchen doing something else – making pasta sauce in this case.

To serve, cut into 1/2-in. thick slices and fry in hot oil (I like some bacon grease with the oil).  Fry to a golden brown, flip and repeat – remove and drain on paper towels for a couple of minutes.  Since it really likes to stick to the pan, I always use a non-stick skillet.
When I was a kid, we ate it open faced on a piece of buttered white bread, making it a bread sandwich, but this time, I topped mine with a couple of fried eggs and it was delicious.

I used some whole grain corn meal that I’d bought from a farmer at a fair and kept in the freezer and while it was very good, I still want to try the pre-made version to see if homemade is worth the effort.  I think I’ve posted about mush before but wanted to provide the above tips and have them recorded on the blog - so I'll know what to do next time.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


12/6/13 meal date


  1. I never ate cornmeal mush until I met my husband, whose family loved it. We've haven't made it in quite a while, but I do remember those little volcanos that would pop up when you went to stir the pot. I seem to remember an "ouch" or two from those eruptions/splatters. Cornmeal mush is one of the many reasons I still have my copy of Joy of Cooking. You don't see recipes like this much anymore.

  2. I'll admit, the name cornmeal mush doesn't sound all that appealing, and as a kid I would have rather eaten peas!! lol BUT after seeing how you served it, I definitely would be asking for seconds!! I'm very intrigued and will need to make this soon myself!

  3. I've heard of cornmeal mush my entire life and really didn't take much time to know exactly what it was. And good for you for taking the time to make it instead of buying it. Seems like a little bit of a project. Seeing that photo with the two eggs made me instantly hungry. :)

  4. Larry, It's been several years since I've had fried corn meal mush for breakfast! While the idea of putting eggs on it isn't for me, I do like it with butter and maple syrup. Eggs and sweet don't work for me...and I've never understood waffles and fried chicken either. (Must be my Midwest upbringing...) You used to be able to buy corn meal mush in the refrigerated case at the grocery, but I haven't seen it in a long time. Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  5. I have a secret... I've never tried polenta. Crazy right? It looks like, after seeing this post, especially with eggs on top, that I need to give it a try!

  6. Very interesting recipe! You should try the Cajun version called couche-couche. Much easier and also delicious.

  7. Sort of like having refried cornbread! I've never tried polenta, cornbread mush, or whatever you want to call it, but it looks like a good breakfast side!

  8. Persistence pays :-) You did it, Larry..I hope all is well. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  9. I love, love, love fried cornmeal mush!!! My grandmother and mom both made it frequently when I was young, in Ohio and then later in Louisville. My mom would add cooked crumbled sausage, or bacon to it. YUM! I make it every now and then, but unfortunately I'm the only one who likes it. A pat of butter and a little syrup works for me. Thanks for the great post and now I'm off to make some mush!

  10. P.S. Here's my recipe for it:
    I will be having eggs on it the next time! :-)


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