Making Mieliepap

“Mielie” in Afrikaans means “corn.” As for “pap”, that’s not hard to figure out: “porridge”, “gruel” that sort of thing. This version is clearly not a gruel, souped up as it is with honey, but more than that bacon and cheese (which make everything taste better). My 4-year-old, who’s mad for all things corn — cornbread, tortillas, tamales, arepas, you name it — couldn’t get enough of this and had to be restrained lest she exploded. Begin by turning your oven on to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Next combine the milk, buttermilk, honey, butter, salt and corn meal in a saucepan.

Set it over media-high heat, whisking it every so often until it comes to a boil.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue to simmer it for about five minutes, until it takes on a thick texture, about like hot cereal.

Allow that to cool until it’s just warm to the touch. Meanwhile, prepare your bacon. Cut it into pieces, the size is up to you. I make mine a little large knowing they’re going to shrink up as they cook.

When the bacon is lightly crisped (but not quite done to the degree I want) I take out about half. This is the bacon I’m going to sprinkle on top toward the end. The rest I’ll keep cooking a bit.

When the remaining bacon is done to the degree you like, strain it and remove it to a medium bowl. Add half the cheese, the baking soda and the beaten egg.

Give it a good stir…

…and add the cooled corn meal mixture.

Stir all that together and press it into a 8″ square baking pan or a small 8″ cast iron skillet.

Bake 15 minutes until it’s starting to brown, then sprinkle on the rest of the bacon and cheese.

Bake about another ten minutes until well-browned and crusted around the edges. Scoop it onto plates and serve.

Mieliepap can go anywhere mashed potatoes go. A hearty version like this is a stellar accompaniment to grilled meats. A lighter version without all the dressings (no bacon or cheese and perhaps just a touch of honey) is a classic match with cooked cabbage, vegetable stew or with chakalaka spooned all over it.

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3 Responses to Making Mieliepap

  1. linda says:

    I’m in no way trying to compare my pets to your dear 4 year old, but did you know cats can be mad for corn also?? I have one who knows the minute I step into the house with fresh corn and won’t leave me alone until I throw him a husk to chew/chase. And another who cries until I give him a cob to eat!! If you’ve never seen a cat eat corn on the cob, is is pretty comical. They even like to drink the cooled water from boiling the corn and they can’t get enough. Who knew??? And more mysterious – why?

  2. Tom says:

    I wonder if this could be turned into a sweet “dessert” version, sans bacon and cheese with maybe a bit mor sugar/honey and added dried fruits. A baked corn-porridge so to say.

    Yes, I am scared of the sweet/salty-combo.

    • joepastry says:

      It absolutely could, Tom! Just don’t try that in the southern US, where combining corn meal and sugar is a hanging offense.

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