Simple Cornmeal Porridge

by From Scratch Farmstead
bowl of cornmeal porridge with cinnamon

I am always looking to add quick, easy, and nourishing meals to our family’s breakfast repertoire. This cornmeal porridge has been a recent addition. It is creamy and delicious while being chalked with nutrients to keep bellies satisfied.

On our homestead, we have been growing a field of dent corn alongside a three sister’s garden of corn, beans, and squash, for the last few years. The corn is left to dry for a few weeks. Then we stone grind it in a counter top hand mill. It’s an old-fashioned process that makes us feel strongly connected with Ma Ingalls.

oaxacan green dent corn

Last season we majorly upped our garden game and were left with a solid ten years supply of dent corn. We are big fans of the staple cornbread that we love to make with our cornmeal. But we knew we had to branch out. We’ve been busy exploring all sorts of ways to enjoy this cornmeal. 

This sweetened cornmeal porridge paired with the creamy milk we get from Thimble, our milk cow, and drizzled with maple syrup make the perfect breakfast.

What is Cornmeal Porridge?

Cornmeal porridge is a common breakfast dish in Jamaica and Caribbean countries. Traditionally made by combining finely ground cornmeal with freshly made coconut milk or cow’s milk. Then the porridge is mixed with warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, sweetened, and topped with whatever fresh fruit was available.

There are so many delicious variations that can be made of this traditional dish. From making it sweet or savory, cooking it in various liquids, and selecting a variety of toppings. But whatever way it comes, cornmeal porridge is comforting and a definite favorite in our house.

cornmeal porridge with cinnamon and banana

What’s the difference between cornmeal porridge, grits, and polenta?

After growing a dent or flint corn ourselves for the last several years, all of the sudden this was a question that seemed very relevant. I had heard these terms thrown around but honestly had no idea the difference between grits, polenta, or cornmeal porridge. 

While grits, polenta, and porridge are all made from cornmeal, the main difference is in how coarsely ground the cornmeal is. The coarseness of the cornmeal will then determine what the texture of the final product will be when cooked.

Grits: Grits are made from the most coarsely ground cornmeal and will therefore have a “grittier” texture as the name implies.

Polenta: Polenta is made from medium coarse cornmeal. This medium ground cornmeal has so many possibilities. From corn cakes, to baking in a casserole, to serving as a side dish alongside your favorite meat.

Cornmeal Porridge: Cornmeal porridge is made from a finely ground cornmeal. This gives this porridge the smoothest and creamiest texture of the three.

hand milling cornmeal

Cornmeal vs. Corn Flour

If the differences in how coarse or finely ground of cornmeal you have isn’t enough, another question we often get is: is cornmeal the same a corn flour? The answer to this is, No. The difference is that corn flour is actually ground to make a powder versus cornmeal making a more coarsely ground meal.

The Ingredients and Substitutions

Cornmeal – As we talked about above, in order to get the creamiest and smoothest porridge, a finely ground cornmeal is the best option. A more coarsely ground cornmeal with alter the texture. You can use whatever color cornmeal you like, from white, to yellow, or we even use our green tinted cornmeal from our Oaxacan Green Dent Corn. They all work well.

Milk – Any kind of milk will work for this. Because we have fresh cow’s milk readily available, that’s what we prefer. But coconut milk is often how it is prepared in Jamaica or Caribbean countries. For a less creamy porridge, water would work in a pinch.

simple cornmeal porridge ingredients

Sweetener – We prefer drizzling our porridge with maple syrup but any sweetener will work: honey, granulated sugar, or even sweetened condensed milk.

Spices – For this sweetened porridge we like to use cinnamon and nutmeg but adding other warming spices like cloves or cardamom would be delicious.

Toppings – This porridge is great with whatever fruit you have on hand – bananas, pineapples, mangos, berries – you can’t go wrong!

Other Cornmeal porridge variations

While this creamy, sweetened porridge topped with fresh fruit makes a perfect breakfast (or really any meal or snack), you can change it up to make other variation as well.

breakfast cornmeal porridge

To make a savory version, one of our favorite variations is to cook the cornmeal in broth and top it with whatever leftover meat we have (shredded chicken, ground beef, chopped ham, etc.) and sprinkle with shredded cheese. You can swap out whatever protein you have, and spice it up with different spices or sauces to make tons of different combination of cornmeal porridge for any and every occasion.

This is one of our favorite ways to repurpose leftovers to make a really quick and easy meal that everyone loves.

Can You Reheat Porridge?

While we generally eat this porridge up in one sitting for our family, it can be reheated. I’d suggest adding some extra liquid to when reheating because the porridge continues to thicken and will likely congeal in your fridge. Adding some liquid when you reheat will help to thin it to its original texture.

How to Serve Cornmeal Porridge?

We usually serve this cornmeal porridge as a complete meal in itself. However, it would also make a great side dish for breakfast alongside eggs or some bacon.

Cornmeal Porridge Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 Cup Finely Ground Cornmeal
4 Cups Milk
½ tsp Salt
2 tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp Nutmeg
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
Fruit for Topping

adding ingredients to porridge

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, stir cornmeal and milk together. A whisk is really helpful here to get rid of clumps in your cornmeal and give it a really smooth texture.
  2. Heat on medium heat until porridge begins to thicken.
  3. Once it’s reached your desired thickness, remove from heat. This generally takes around 10 minutes for us.
  4. Stir in salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and maple syrup.
  5. Serve in bowls and top with fruit as desired.

For more of our favorite nourishing breakfast recipes, check out our soaked and baked oatmeal, potato crusted quiche, and sourdough scones.

breakfast cornmeal porridge

Simple Cornmeal Porridge

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

I am always looking to add quick, easy, and nourishing meals to our family’s breakfast repertoire. This cornmeal porridge has been a recent addition. It is creamy and delicious while being chalked with nutrients to keep bellies satisfied.

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Finely Ground Cornmeal
  • 
4 Cups Milk

  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 
2 tsp Cinnamon

  • ½ tsp Nutmeg
  • 
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup

  • Fruit for Topping

Instructions

    1. In a saucepan, stir cornmeal and milk together. A whisk is really helpful here to get rid of clumps in your cornmeal and give it a really smooth texture.
    2. Heat on medium heat until porridge begins to thicken.
    3. Once it’s reached your desired thickness, remove from heat. This generally takes around 10 minutes for us.
    4. Stir in salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and maple syrup.
    5. Serve in bowls and top with fruit as desired.

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