Try this Midwestern staple for breakfast

Carolyn Menyes

There are a lot of regional breakfast foods, and some are more famous than others. Biscuits and gravy, for example, is one of those dishes you’ll find on almost every Southern breakfast table, but you can find it at some of the best brunch restaurants all across America. There are other foods that are barely heard of outside of a certain part of the United States: think scrapple, Taylor ham or migas. One of those foods is the Midwestern staple fried cornmeal mush.

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Primarily found in Indiana and Ohio, fried cornmeal mush is exactly what it sounds like: fresh ground corn, water and salt. The simplicity of this food likens it to other regional cornmeal-based dishes like polenta and grits. What makes fried mush distinctive, however, is its firm texture and how it is prepared. If you slice it, pan fry it in butter until it’s golden crisp and then top it with some maple syrup, you have a breakfast staple that’s just as delicious as pancakes.

Though the exact origins of fried mush are hard to nail down, the best-known brand, Jaxon Mush (which is notable in Indiana and Ohio grocery stores by its bright yellow tube), got its start way back in 1896 when Theresa Jackson used leftover cornmeal from dinner to make a budget-friendly breakfast for her family. Her husband Cyrus felt she had a hit on her hands and started selling her recipe to local grocery stores, and the business grew through the Great Depression and is still family-owned today.

Though you can buy fried mush premade at the grocery store, the dish is truly easy to make at home. After you cook it and top it with syrup, serve it alongside your breakfast casseroles, kringle and these other breakfast dishes you’ll only find in the Midwest.

Fried Mush


3 cups water
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup water
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup butter
Maple syrup


Boil 3 cups water in medium-size saucepan.

Meanwhile, mix together 1 cup water, 1 cup cornmeal and salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon).

Add cornmeal mixture to boiling water. Stir frequently until water returns to a boil.

Cover saucepan, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.

Pour mixture into a greased loaf pan; allow to chill in the refrigerator overnight (at least 8 hours).

Cut into 1/2-inch slices.

Heat butter in skillet over medium-high heat.

Fry corn mush slices until golden brown and crispy.

Serve warm, with syrup.

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