Though there were many debates on whether or not polenta (Ro. Mamaliga) has its origins in the Romanian land, we could say it became a traditional Romanian dish, today served in a variety of styles and mixtures.
Polenta is made when cornmeal is boiled in salty water, resulting in a grits-like consistency. Once this warm dish is made, it’s baked, grilled, fried, or served creamy, making it one of the most versatile dishes. Traditionally, layers of cheese added to the cooked cornmeal and a sour cream topping make this specialty a delicious entrée or side dish.
There is no rocket science in making a good polenta, the only thing you need to pay attention to is the quality of the cornmeal. You add water in a medium saucepan, salt to taste and leave it to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and gradually add the cornmeal, stirring constantly with a whisk until the desired consistency. Once done, you can add whichever type of cheese you enjoy more and some sour cream and serve while it’s still warm.
Want to try grilled polenta? Preheat grill to medium-high. Lightly brush top and bottom of polenta with oil, and place in center of grill. Cook, flipping once, until polenta is marked, crisp, and no longer sticks to grill, 6 to 8 minutes per side.
Fried you say? Lightly oil a baking dish, transfer the hot polenta and spread evenly to ¾ inch thick. Refrigerate until cold and firm. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F, cut the polenta in smaller pieces and fry in batches in heated oil until golden brown on all sides, about 3 minutes per side.
There are too many polenta recipes that will surely impress you, however, we have chosen the most known ones:
Bulz (first photo)
Put the polenta and salt in a large saucepan with 600 ml water. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly, and cook for 5-8 minutes, still stirring, until the mixture is thick. Pour the mixture onto a plate and leave until completely cold. Divide the mixture into 6 and form each piece into the shape of a fish cake.
Place a cube of butter and a cube of cheese in the middle of each, wet your hands and shape each cake into a round dumpling, ensuring that the filling is completely enclosed.
Melt the butter in a pan, add the dumplings, rolling them around in the butter and allow cooking for about 10 minutes. Serve with any remaining butter and topped with the sour cream.
Tochitura Moldoveneasca (second photo)
Cut the meat (400g of Pork Meat, 50g of Smoked Bacon) in about 1 inch cubes and the sausages (preferably smoked) in 2 inch long segments. Put a little oil in a deep, thick walled pot and begin cooking the meat. When it starts lightly browning add the bacon and sausages. Continue cooking till the meat gets a nice brown color and add the chopped garlic, thyme, pepper and oregano. Cook for 2-3 minutes then add the cup of wine and continue cooking till the wine is completely evaporated and there is not much liquid in the pot. In another pot make a polenta (“Mamaliguta”) as instructed earlier in our article. While everything is still hot it is time to assemble the dish. On a plate put some polenta and make an indentation in the middle and in that indentation and on the edges put the meat and sausages. Shred the cheese liberally on top, also as a finishing touch make a fried egg and place it on top.