Most commonly used in baked goods and to give fried Southern food, such as hush puppies and catfish, a distinctive "crunch," cornmeal is a versatile recipe addition. Cornmeal is produced when either white or yellow corn is dried and then ground down.
Cornmeal's texture can be coarse, fine, or anything in between depending on how it is milled. Also, if the corn's germ and bran remains, the meal will have a coarser texture. If you're making grits, for example, and desire a thicker consistency, look for cornmeal containing whole grains.
Not only is cornmeal inexpensive, it can be worked into a wide range of dishes to add flavor, texture, or both. If you have a box of cornmeal on hand, get creative by incorporating it into one of these recipe ideas:
1. Spoon Pudding
A rich and hearty dish sure to satisfy any appetite, spoon pudding is a blend of cornmeal, heavy cream, eggs, fried sausage, chicken or vegetable stock, cheese, and a variety of seasonings. After blending all of the ingredients into a pudding consistency, spoon the mixture into individual porcelain ramekins and bake until it's golden brown.
You can serve the savory pudding for breakfast with a side of fresh fruit, or with a salad for dinner.
2. Honey Cornbread Muffins
Cornbread muffins are common side items of Southern-style meals, but with the added sweetness of honey, they can be served as dessert as well. Start by combining cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking soda, sugar and salt, and then combining eggs, milk, honey, and melted butter. Mix all of the ingredients together to make a batter, and then pour into paper-lined muffin tin cups.
Bake until the tops of the muffins are golden brown, and then serve with butter for a decadent treat.
3. Corn Dog Bites
A hit with both children and adults, corn dog bites are the ultimate finger foods. To make the traditional corn dog batter, combine cornmeal, all-purpose flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Whisk together buttermilk, whole eggs, and melted butter, and then mix all of the ingredients together.
Place either meat or soy-based, meat-free hot dogs bites into muffin tin cups. You can place either one or two hot dog pieces into each cup, depending on how much you have. Pour the cornmeal batter into each cup, completely surrounding the hot dog pieces, and then bake until golden brown.
Serve the corn dog bites with ketchup and mustard for dipping.