|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 5g||6%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||12%|
|Total Carbohydrate 16g||6%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||5%|
|Total Sugars 0g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Similar to polenta, Romanian cornmeal porridge, or mămăligă, is an ancient dish that began as peasant food and is now served at fine restaurants. It is a simple combination of cornmeal, water (or stock or milk), salt, and butter, and can be served with sour cream, fresh cheese, and herbs.
This is a basic soft mămăligă recipe, but the porridge can also be baked or fried. No matter how you prepare it, the mixture does need to be stirred frequently as it cooks for about 40 minutes on the stovetop. This recipe suggests topping the mămăligă with telemea, a traditional Romanian cheese made from sheep's milk that is semisoft, crumbly, and a bit salty, similar to feta cheese.
3 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
Sour cream, optional
Telemea, or feta cheese, optional
Fresh herbs of choice, optional
Steps to Make It
Gather the ingredients.
Bring the water to a rolling boil. Add the salt and butter, stirring to melt.
Using a wooden spoon, add the cornmeal very gradually, while stirring constantly in the same direction.
Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until it thickens and starts to pull away from the sides of the pot, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Serve hot with sour cream, cheese, and/or herbs if you prefer.
- If desired, while mămăligă is still hot, add more butter along with some cheese, sour cream, and herbs and stir to combine.
- Mămăligă can be poured into a pan and either baked or fried. Let the porridge cool, then pour into a pan and chill. Flip out onto a cutting board, cut into squares, and either bake or sauté in butter until crispy.
More Ways to Use Mămăligă
- Mămăligă Balls: Mămăligă or cornmeal porridge is cooked until thick and moldable. It's portioned into balls and stuffed with salami or smoked sausage and fried. (You can substitute chunks of ham or feta cheese for the salami.) This is a great appetizer, snack, or finger food perfect with cocktails.
- Oxtail Stew: Mămăligă is the perfect accompaniment for hearty stews like this one made with oxtails braised in red wine.
- Croatian Venison Goulash: In Croatian, polenta is known as palenta. This stew is perfect over a bed of mămăligă.
- Peppered Shrimp and Cauliflower: Mămăligă is the perfect canvas for tender shrimp and crisp cauliflower, all boldly seasoned with garlic and black pepper.
- Spiced Lamb Stew: A combination of ginger, cinnamon, cumin, tomatoes, garlic, and lemon juice adds warming flavors to this lamb stew. Serve it over mămăligă.
The History of Mămăligă
In the 16th century, the Turks introduced corn brought by Venetian merchants from the New World to northern Italians and Romanians, who planted the corn and made mush with it. This mush became Italian polenta and Romanian mămăligă. Mămăligă was traditionally cooked in a ceaun, a round-bottomed kettle, and then turned out onto a wooden farm table to cool and harden. (Many Romanian tables are shiny and concave in the center because of this.) A string was used to cut slices that were topped with butter, sour cream, and cheese. It is said any cracks in the mămăligă are an indication of a journey that lies ahead.