I remember Mom making cornmeal mush a couple of times when I was a child, and I remember liking it. When we (Tony and I) lived in the South, I could not have been less interested in grits. Grits just sound unappetizing, to say the least. Then we moved Up North, and one day I had polenta at a local Cajun restaurant, as part of a daily feature. The outside was lightly crispy, and the inside was tender and somehow creamy.
And that’s when I learned that grits and mush and polenta are all pretty much the same thing.That’s also when I learned that it’s delicious. It can be dressed up, or dressed down. It can be creamy like oatmeal, or cooled and used in a multitude of ways – sweet or savory. Plus, it has the additional bonus of being cheap and easy. If you’re not into creamy and cheesy, these can even be made vegetarian or vegan in a snap.
We’ve been into this creamy, thick-mashed-potato-y preparation lately. If you’re new to cooked cornmeal, I recommend trying these as a side first, but we frequently load them down with veggies and call it a meal 😉 Obviously, in Spring there is simply no better way to enjoy them than with asparagus and morels.
1 cup dry cornmeal (I prefer yellow)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 cups (1 14-oz can) chicken stock
1 cup mozzarella/provolone blend, shredded
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 bundle asparagus
1 large handful mushrooms (6 or 8 ounces if store-bought)
In a medium sauce pan, heat chicken stock and 1 cup heavy cream over medium heat until boiling. Meanwhile, steam asparagus until crisp-tender, and saute mushrooms (we used our just-found morels) in butter (I always add salt and garlic, but make them to your preference). Set both aside. Mix together cornmeal, milk, salt, poultry seasoning, and ground mustard. Once cream and stock is boiling, pour in cornmeal mixture. Whisk the whole concoction slowly, making sure to break up any clumps. It will thicken pretty quickly. Stir in cheese until melted, and then slowly add extra cream until incorporated. Remove from heat, and add any extras – in this case asparagus and morels. You can also stir in more milk/cream to make it creamier if you like.
Enjoy! (Also – Happy Easter!)