Porridge is as old as civilization itself. The first humans made porridge from the grains they grew as early as the Neolithic Era. The term is usually synonymous with oats but over the years, people have made porridge out of practically any grain, fruit or roots they can find. So, I am going to share Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge home made recipe.
In Jamaica, porridge is made from oats, peanuts, plantains, green bananas, Malanga roots, cornmeal or hominy (corn) and is had for breakfast. Sometimes porridge is made with a combination of the ingredients on the list above and can take on an entire eclectic life of its own. The grains or roots are usually cooked in milk (animal or nut) and sweetened with condensed milk and/or sugar. A porridge dish is not complete without a combination of vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. The spices embolden the flavor of the cereal likening it to a dessert. Porridge can be had by itself or with fried dumplings (dough), crackers or bread.
Cooking porridge will vary in time depending on the grain, fruit or the root used. The key to making good porridge is constantly watching it so that it doesn’t stick or burn. Most porridge will cook in less than 20 minutes and is usually sweetened and spiced after it is removed from the heat. To make porridge you need a sturdy pan, a good whisk and a good amount of patience. That may sound like a lot of work but the end result is well worth it.
Jamaican cornmeal porridge is so popular and important in Jamaica. They actually feed it to young babies once they start to transition from mother’s milk or formula. Adults eat a much thicker version, which is often cooked in a coconut milk base.
For this recipe you will need:
- Medium saucepan
- Wooden spoon
- Small bowl
- Sharp Knife
- Cutting Board
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 2 cups of water + ½ cup or more to ensure even cooking
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 cup of cornmeal
- 1 tbsp of flour
- ½ can of condensed milk (7 oz)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- In a saucepan add coconut milk, water, cinnamon stick, salt and the “beans” from the vanilla pod. (slice the vanilla bean pod down the center and use a sharp knife to scrape out the beans.) Bring milk and spices up to a boil on medium to high heat.
- In a separate bowl, add cornmeal and flour. Use a spoon to mix in the flour well. Add 1 cup of water and whisk to ensure all the lumps are mixed out.
- Once the milk and spices come to a boil, add in cornmeal mixture and whisk vigorously. (The cornmeal will thicken right away. Add about ½ cup of water to the pan to ensure there is enough liquid to cook the cornmeal)
- Cook porridge for roughly 10-15mins on low to medium heat until the grains are thoroughly cooked. If the porridge becomes too thick as the water cooks into the grain, it is okay to add a little more water.
- Once the cornmeal is cooked, turn the heat to the lowest setting. Remove cinnamon sticks.
- Add in condensed milk, sugar, nutmeg and ground cinnamon. Mix in milk and spices well. Add in more spices if you like.
Serve hot with bread, crackers or fried dumplings (dough).
- Use fine cornmeal made by Goya or Grace.
- If you want to make this completely vegan, you can use coconut condensed milk to sweeten it.
- Do not turn your back on this dish. Pay close attention to it while cooking and keep your whisk handy. Porridge can easily get lumpy or burn.
- Keep the heat relatively low while cooking.