Breakfast Week-Fried Mush

by Kristen on February 17, 2009 · 40 comments

in Breakfast, Recipes

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I think that this dish may possibly have the least appealing name of any breakfast food out there, but trust me, it really is tasty. I should probably call it Fried Polenta…that sounds much more delicious. My husband used to eat this when he was a kid, and this recipe is a combination of my mother-in-law’s instructions and a Better Homes and Gardens recipe.

Cornmeal mush is an exceedingly frugal food, but in its original state, it’s quite bland, and the texture definitely leaves a lot to be desired. However, when it’s cooled, sliced, and lightly fried, it’s transformed into something crispy, buttery, and flavorful (and it’s still really cheap!).

Since the cornmeal needs to be cooked and cooled ahead of time, you may want do steps 1-3 the night before so that all you have to do is fry the polenta in the morning. If you don’t have time to cook the whole batch, you can refrigerate the polenta for several days and fry it when you have time.

I use un-degerminated(whole) yellow cornmeal, but you can use regular cornmeal as well.

Cornmeal Mush

1 cup cornmeal
3 3/4 cups water, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Bring 2 3/4 cups water to boiling. Mix cornmeal and salt with 1 cup water, to make a sort of cornmeal slurry.

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2. When the water comes to a boil, stir in the cornmeal slurry. Bring back to a boil, cover, and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, or until very thick. This is a bubbly mess while it’s cooking, so be sure to put a lid on your pot.

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3. Pour the hot cornmeal mixture into an ungreased 4×6 inch loaf pan, and let cool for several hours.

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4. When the cornmeal is completely cool, invert the pan onto a cutting board.

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5. Heat a skillet over medium heat, and add a tablespoon or two of butter. Using a sharp knife, cut the cornmeal loaf into 1/4 inch thick slices, and lay them in the melted butter. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the bottoms are lightly browned. It’s nearly impossible to burn these at this point, since they have such a high water content.

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6. Using a spatula, gently flip each piece and cook about 5 more minutes, or until they are light brown and relatively dry and crispy, adding more butter as necessary to keep the pieces from sticking.

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I think these are very tasty as is, but they’re even better with butter and syrup(naturally). Enjoy!

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You may also be interested in my other breakfast recipes:

Buttermilk Waffles
Buttermilk Pancakes
Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes
Orange Julius
Strawberry Syrup

Leave a Comment

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Daisy February 17, 2009 at 5:48 pm

The same can be done with cold grits.

We like to eat what we call “Hasty Pudding”

2 cups milk
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 Tbl. butter
1/2 tsp. salt

Bring milk almost to a boil, stirring constantly. Add cornmeal, stir 3-5 minutes or until thickened. Add butter and salt. Let sit 5 minutes. Yummy.

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2 MAM February 17, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Your version looks like it might be pretty good. The version my mother made when I was a child, alas, was not. –Mary

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3 Kristen February 17, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Daisy, isn’t that what Laura’s grandma made in the first Little House book? The name sounds familiar.

Mary, I was a little skeptical at first when I heard about this recipe, but once I tried it, I became a believer! lol

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4 The Happy Slob Housecleaner February 17, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Yum! I think if you added a little cinnamon or apple pie spice to that cornmeal mix it would be extra delicious! (I eat gluten free, and I had an idea of slicing these into long strips or even cutting them out with donut cutters for healthy GF ‘donuts!’)

Just found your blog and I absolutely love it…
Christina

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5 Kristen February 17, 2009 at 8:24 pm

Oh, that’s right…these are gluten free! Cool. I’m such a flour nut, I rarely manage to make gluten-free foods. lol

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6 Daisy February 17, 2009 at 8:44 pm

LOL. I don’t know? I got the recipe from someone else. I’m sure it’s traveled the internet. ;-)

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7 CanadianSaver February 17, 2009 at 8:48 pm

I’ve never had polenta in my life… I should put it on my list of things to try.

When I saw the picture the first time, I thought it was fish! You know, those frozen triangular pieces ;-)

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8 Amy N February 17, 2009 at 10:32 pm

This looks soooo good. I’ve never thought of having polenta for breakfast. I will have to try it!

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9 Kristen February 18, 2009 at 7:43 am

Canadian Saver…oh my goodness! The thought of fish sticks with butter syrup is really gross. lol

These are much better than fish sticks, happily.

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10 Adrienne February 18, 2009 at 8:17 am

I love savory polenta (with rosemary and cheese) – it’s a great alternative to rice or potatoes.

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11 Movingonup! February 18, 2009 at 10:37 am

I have never had polenta. Maybe I should give it whirl.

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12 Battra92 February 19, 2009 at 9:33 am

Johnnycakes take on so many forms, don’t they?

Here in New England we tend to add a little sugar to the mix but I really like the cooling and slicing. That looks much easier than how I make them (as pancakes.)

You could probably make the “batter” the night before and keep it in the chill chest for the next morning.

Oh and be sure and add plenty of Maple Syrup. If you aren’t in New England and can’t afford it a simple syrup with some maple extract added is a passable substitute (and has none of the HFCS of the fake stuff on the store shelves.)

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13 Kristen February 19, 2009 at 9:37 am

Battra, yep, that’s what I suggest. The longer the loaf of polenta chills, the easier it is to slice. I’ve made the mistake of trying to slice it too soon, and the slices just want to fall apart.

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14 WilliamB June 3, 2009 at 2:43 pm

To me, that dish is just crying out for cheese. (Keep the butter, skip the sugar & syrup.) But that’s just me. I don’t mind leftovers and like last night’s dinner for breakfast. Another variation I know of is to bread the slices (I’d use cheese + crumbs) and fry for dinner.

I’m so glad to see you use a slurry and avoid the hassle of adding cornmeal to hot water. It’s so hard to do without creating a lumpy mess (anyone read “The Witch of Blackbird Pond”?) and doesn’t taste any better.

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15 Eva September 16, 2013 at 10:17 pm

I read that book as a girl :) and as I was making this I was thinking how hard it must have to to prepare this over a smokey fire! Still have the book, maybe I will read it again!

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16 Vickie Lambert June 29, 2009 at 10:14 am

I grew up with “Mush” (a northern thing I think – my mom grew up on a farm in IL) and absolutely loved it! We only used maple syrup (no butter). When I got older and discovered grits in Texas, I decided they’d taste better with maple syrup for breakfast. In recent years polenta has become popular and I realized that it’s just my mom’s Mush that’s embellished with other herbs at times to make a dinner sidedish.

Thanks for the memories. Love your blog; just discovered it in the last several months but I’ve always been a frugal person – “bargain-hunter”, coupon user and garage/yard-saler but love the new emphasis on green living and lowering our carbon footprint. Just picked up a vanity stool from Freecycle yesterday. It has leg that I’m told keeps coming off but I know that either I or my dad can fix it. Thanks for all of your ideas. Keep up the good work and God bless you and your family!

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17 Sharon October 9, 2009 at 8:56 pm

I’m going to try this “your way” tonight. But I was just wondering if this could be made with chicken stock instead of water. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll try that some time.

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18 Kayla K from Kayla K's Thrifty Ways December 2, 2009 at 3:29 pm

I had this for breakfast this morning with a fried egg, salt, and pepper, and it was wonderful! I have never had cornmeal mush before, and I like it. Good thing, because it’s a frugal staple. Thanks for the recipe and tutorial!

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19 Eean December 21, 2009 at 12:05 pm

If you want a really tasty side dish for a dinner meal (something italian or a side dish to a protien)

Dip the polenta into Parmesan cheese before frying OR cover it with Parmesan after frying.

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20 Norma January 11, 2010 at 11:05 am

My husband love fried mush. But when I fry it, it always sticks to the skillet. What am I doing wrong? I use a iron skillet with oil…over medium heat. I would appreciate your advice.

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21 Kristen January 11, 2010 at 11:53 am

Hmm…I’d guess that you are not using enough oil (I use butter, and I need quite a bit of it), or that you are trying to turn them before they’re ready. They need to cook for quite some time before they are sturdy enough to flip over.

Hope that helps!

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22 Norma January 18, 2010 at 10:51 am

Kristen…Thanks for your advice. I let them fry longer before trying to turn them and it worked beautifully. Thanks again.

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23 wade January 18, 2010 at 10:12 am

Hey this page is great id like to start out with. Me and my roomate eat this a lot on our drive to work so covering it in butter or syrup does not work for us very well while in the car. We found that if we cook some bacon untill its very crispy then dice it up very small and add it to the mix it adds a whole bunch of flavor to it. We also use the left over bacon grease to fry the mush in.

Working on a fried mush breakfast burrito ill let you know if i come up with anything good there.

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24 Nancy January 31, 2010 at 10:04 pm

My mother made this and I loved it. Haven’t had it in years! Making it tomorrow night for dinner w/scrambled eggs & bacon. Can’t wait.

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25 Vera February 22, 2010 at 11:35 am

This is definitely fried mush… My uncle would make this every day. You see on Saturday night he would make the mush. He made enough to make a large loaf and would refrigerate it until it was ready to cook in the morning. He was a bachelor. This was his breakfast for the week. He would leave the loaf pan in the fridge and only slice what he would eat and cook that for breakfast. Usually two slices every day. Fried them up in a cast iron skillet that was well seasoned. Used butter to fry them in and when they turned a golden brown, then he would take them off, serve them up hot with Karo syrup. Never had it with maple syrup, but I suppose that would be good too. Since I only ever had it with the dark Karo, I look forward to that taste. Really brings back the memories…. Thanks…

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26 cheryl February 22, 2010 at 12:32 pm

love your website.your family is so blessed to haveyou.my grandma also lived on the farm and she made mush. it was so good.i begged her 4 it all the time. my daughter now asks me to make it. the slurry is tops no more lumps.thanks cheryl

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27 Sarah February 27, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Wow thought I was the only one still making “mush” . My husbands mother made it all the time, she added left over roast, finely chopped and for part of the liquid, beef broth from the roast. She usually floured it a bit before frying.

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28 Susannah June 26, 2010 at 8:56 pm

I, too, thought of “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” while reading this post! Great minds, you know… Sounds yummy, think I’ll give this a try. I’ve never had fried mush, polenta, johnnycake, or whatever you want to call it. But I’m a big fan of cornbread so I’m thinking I’ll like this too. Thanks for the tutorial!

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29 Viktoriah S October 19, 2010 at 2:55 pm

YUMMY! I just finish my last strip ^_^ Thank you so much for sharing the Recipe! :)

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30 Shannon May 9, 2011 at 8:28 pm

My nana would make polenta! Thanks for the smaller recipe. She would always make big batches. A couple other ways to enjoy fried polenta is with butter and parmesan cheese or with red sauce on top. Meat or plain. Your choice. Yum.

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31 Victoria S October 9, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Yummy! This was so delicious! Thank you so much for the recipe!

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32 Ron Becker December 15, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Cook down scrapple or pudding meat in the water before adding the corn meal and you will have what the Penn. Dutch call paan haas. It has a peppery liver flavor.

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33 Ron Baughman January 30, 2013 at 4:19 pm

This is one dish that really works well in a cast iron skillet. Simple, nutritious, and just loves loves blueberry, maple syrup, and chocolate. I like mine with simple salt and pepper as a side dish. Mild corn taste with a crunch.

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34 Vic April 4, 2013 at 9:44 am

How long does cornmeal mush keep in the fridge?

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35 Kristen April 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm

I’m not sure, as I’ve never kept it around very long. I think it would be fine for a few days, though.

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36 Carol Harris May 16, 2013 at 9:37 pm

My mother used to make this now and then for our family. She knew we kids wouldn’t like the name “mush,” so she called it “Golden Glow.” The whole family loved this breakfast.

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