What to CookCornmeal

A Tale of Two Cornmeals: Grits & Polenta

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Cooking on the cheap shouldn't mean minute rice and buttered pasta every night. With a little creativity and a little planning, Gabriella Paiella shows us how to make the most of a tight budget -- without sacrificing flavor or variety. 

Today: It was the best of corn, it was the cheapest of corn.  

Despite being the Token Critical Friend, I have unquestionably embraced New American brunch since day one -- exactly the sort of sweeping trend that would typically not be spared my vitriol. 

More specifically, I order grits or polenta every time they're on the menu, which is, luckily, more often than not.   

They're also simple enough to recreate at home, and, when used as a base for vegetables and proteins, the root of a hearty, satisfying, and incredibly cheap dinner.  

More: Rice makes another trusty staple for cheap weeknight meals.

The difference between grits and polenta? Not much. The former is a southern staple, and the latter is traditional in Italy; but when it comes down to it, it's all corn

You're going to slowly cook grits on the stovetop for about 45 minutes, and the same goes for polenta. Once they have cooked, you can even go a step further and set them in a baking sheet or other dish, then slice them into rounds or squares, and fry 'em up.

Ready, set, mush. 

If you've got grits in your pantry, give these recipes a try:

Edna Lewis & Scott Peacock's Shrimp Grits 
Goat Cheese Grits with Red Eye Gravy, Country Ham, and a Fried Egg  
Sweet Potato Grits  
Andrew Carmellini's Green Grits 

And if you prefer polenta, go with these:

Broiled Polenta Cakes on Food52

Carlo Middione's Polenta Facile 
Broiled Polenta Cakes
Polenta with Wilted Escarole and Olive Oil Fried Eggs 
Griddled Polenta Cakes with Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese, and Honey 
Sage Polenta Bowls with Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Wild Mushrooms 

Tell us: What are your favorite recipes for grits and polenta? 

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Tags: Polenta, On the Cheap, My Broke Kitchen