While the name corn meal mush doesn’t sound all that enticing, the truth is, for those of us who grew up eating it, it is one of our go-to comfort foods.
Originally prepared to fill the belly when the cupboard was bare, corn meal mush has become a notable specialty in many upscale restaurants.
Cultures around the world have some variation of the corn-meal based mushy goodness. Parts of the Caribbean refer to it as Coo Coo, in Italy it is called Polenta, and in Patti’s Romanian background, it’s referred to as Mamaliga. Jamaica also has its own version called Jamaican Turned Grits.
Here Patti has combined the Romanian recipe handed down to her by her Tusi (Aunt in Romanian), with a Jamaican kick using Doc’s Jamaican Hot Sauce. Enjoy!
* This is one of the only times we will suggest using a crockpot because real grits take a long time to cook. The crockpot makes it a lot easier because once you have everything cooking, you can set it on low and just let it do its thing.
- 8 oz Bacon, chopped (you could also use salt pork if desired)
- 1 Onion, chopped
- 1 Bell Pepper, chopped
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 can Coconut Milk
- 1 1/2 cup Cornmeal (We do not use instant grits. We use locally ground grits from C&D Grits in Pensacola, Fl. )
- 3 cups Cold Water (or chicken broth or veggie broth)
- 1/4 cup Doc’s Jamaican Hot Sauce (more or less to taste)
* If you prefer less heat, use Doc’s Jamaican Jerk Sauce in place of our hot sauce *
- slice bacon into small pieces (1/4 inch or so) and fry bacon until crisp
- Add bell pepper and onion to the pan and saute until they are tender
- Add salt, black pepper and stir
- Pour coconut milk into crockpot and get hot; in the meantime, mix water and cornmeal together until smooth mush.
- Add cornmeal mush to crockpot.
- Add in Doc’s Jamaican Hot Sauce
- Stir cornmeal mixture; keep “turning” every 15 minutes until the corn meal cooks through and becomes thick and creamy (about 3 to 4 hours)
- When the cornmeal mix is creamy, add in the bacon/veggie combination and stir well.
- The longer you cook it, the better it becomes (may take up to 6 hours, total). You may have to add more water or broth over time (about 1/4 cup at a time). There should be no “gritty” texture when the mix is “done.”. Cook the grits until they are creamy and melt in your mouth. You’ll know when it’s done because you’ll just close your eyes and sigh.
Makes 4 to 6 servings, or two if you’re Doc & Patti