Trail Recipe: Pantry Basics with Polenta, Grits, and Cornbread Mix

MONTyBOCA and Chef Corso serve the camping, backpacking, hiking and outdoor communities looking to elevate their meals. The company is headquartered in Seattle, Washington, and recipes are trial-tested by the MONTyBOCA community all over the world. All recipes are fast, easy, mindful of pack weight and volume, require no pre-prep or dehydrating, and focus on real fresh ingredients rather than dry, salty, and expensive packaged options. Follow along on Instagram and on YouTube.

Pantry Basics by MONTyBOCA

What makes for a great cooking ingredient during a backpacking trek?

  1. It needs to be light
  2. It needs to be filling
  3. It needs to be as non-perishable as possible
  4. It needs to be versatile
  5. It needs to be able to be made all times of day and mix with many different flavors
  6. And it needs to taste good
Pantry Basics Polenta joshua tree

A polenta-infused meal whipped up in a few minutes.

Well folks, the classic Grits/Polenta/Cornbread mix is my absolute favorite pantry ingredient to pack because it knocks all of these out of the park.

It’ll thicken up your bacon cheddar grits for breakfast, and round out your Tuscan Polenta and Tamale Bowl for dinner. You can make chili with it, and in a pinch you can eat it by itself.

Did you know that Grits/Polenta/Cornbread Mix — sometimes also referred to as masa — are all pretty much the same thing? They all are dried, ground corn but come from different countries.  (Cornbread mix does usually have some added flour, but cooks up just as good.) Whatever you call it, and whatever form you buy it in, it will be be the cornerstone of your new favorite meal this season.

The only pro tip that matters for this pantry basic: Make sure you purchase the quick cooking option. Cooks up in 5-10 min.

Pantry Basics Polenta mt rainier

When in doubt, throw the polenta base in your mug and hang out by very large mountains for an epic lunch.

Check out more of MONTyBOCA’s pantry basics here, and see three delicious recipes that use Grits/Polenta/Cornbread Mix as the staple: Tamale Bowl, Tuscan Polenta, Cheesy Polenta or Grits.

You can purchase whatever kind of polenta mix you want, but the one that works well and is readily available is Bob’s Red Mill Organic Corn Grits/Polenta.

Watch Chef Corso Cook Explain the Grits/Polenta/Cornbread Mix

Learn more about Chef Corso, and see all our Trail Recipes!


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Chef Corso

Professional chef and founder of MONTyBOCA, Chef Corso wants to help you make meals in the wilderness. With over 160 trail tested meals, instructional guides and videos, and an upbeat attitude he will teach you to enjoy better, healthier foods on your backpacking trips. Follow him on Instagram.

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