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Grits v. Polenta v. Masa Haraina v. Cornmeal

 
 
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 11:37 am
My newspaper today is full of polenta recipes.

"Hmmmm" I say to myself "that sounds just like grits."

I typically make grits using a combination of masa harania and cornmeal.

Is there any reason for me to buy polenta too?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 4,067 • Replies: 10
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 12:24 pm
Per TV Chef Alton Brown, grits = polenta, See: http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/Season8/grits/true_grit_trans.htm I think polenta is usually formed but that doesn't always seem to be true.

Which are both forms of cornmeal. Dunno 'bout the other stuff.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 12:29 pm
Technically speaking, grits are made from ground hominy. Hominy is produced by soaking field corn in lye and water, then leaching the lye by parbroiling the corn, which, when dried, becomes hominy. The kernels of corn soak up the water and become porous, and are about four to five times the size which each kernel had when harvested. If the hominy is then prepared and eaten (usually sauteed with green onions and sausage), it is almost always in the form of yellow hominy, which means the husk remained on the kernel when it was made into hominy.

That yellow husk can be milled off after the kernel has dried again as hominy, producing white hominy. White hominy can then be ground in its dry form to produce hominey grits, which, prepared as is oatmeal, produces a breakfast food commonly served as a matter of course in diners in the American south.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 12:32 pm
Ha! What a fun read that was. Thanks for the link, jespah.

I think I'll try a few of these recipes without going to the store for any other ingredients!
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 12:35 pm
I remember their being a clear distinction between grits and hominy grits but I never knew what the difference was.

When I was trying to search around before asking the question I found many references to either hominy, grits or polenta but nothing that compared the three and nothing about using masa harina as an ingredient in any recipe.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 12:40 pm
Hominy and hominy grits are a poor man's means of making a reasonably edible food of field corn, which is otherwise used as animal feed, or converted into a more portable and sale-able form by being made into a mash from which bourbon whiskey is made.

Country folks already knew how to make lye from wood ash, and used that regularly to make a very strong but effective form of soap with pork fat. Slow boiling field corn, which is otherwise inedible, in lye and water, and then parbroiling and drying the result produces what is for humans an edible form of field corn, and a form which can be easily stored for long periods of time.

Technically, grits are made from hominy, and not from corn meal. Corn meal is made by simply milling the field corn. However, if one does not have a mill, then the prospect of grinding sufficient corn by hand for daily use is rather daunting. The alternative is to pay a miller to grind it. For poor southerners of either the white or the black flavor, hominy and hominy grits is the more reasonable alternative.
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Wy
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Mar, 2006 10:31 am
Polenta is more like cornmeal mush than like grits. I think masa harina is made like grits, using lye in the process... So far as I know, boomer, there's a distinction between hominy and hominy grits, not two kinds of grits. Hominy is the full kernel of corn, swollen by the lye. I love canned hominy, white or yellow. Grits is the ground up stuff.

Whether you've got grits, cornmeal or polenta, make some tonight and refrigerate it in a loaf pan overnight. Turn it out in the morning, slice it in about 3/4" slices, and fry it 'til it's golden on both sides. Serve with butter and syrup, like pancakes... yum!
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vyapti
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Mar, 2006 03:42 pm
Fresh polenta made right is very good, moist and fluffy. Made poorly it's a gritty, clumpy mess.

I use 4 cups boiling water to each cup cornmeal cooked over very low heat for at least 1/2 hour, then mix in some butter and parmesan cheese. Serve it immediately in a bowl or pour it into a mold and let it cool.

It's great with about any spaghetti sauce, chili, or flavorful vegetable sauces.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Mar, 2006 01:30 pm
I'm going to cook some tonight with spinach and smoked gouda cheese. but I think I'll set some unflavored aside to try as those pancake things.

Yum!
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flushd
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Mar, 2006 06:31 pm
I've never tasted any of this stuff.

I swear, I really need a good ol' Southern friend to cook me up a fine meal. I'm dying to try it.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Mar, 2006 06:41 pm
Well come on over!

Southern food is not good for you but that is one of the things that makes it so wonderful.

America's Bible Belt finds great ways to sin.
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