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Bălmuș - cheesy mamaliga (Romanian polenta)

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  • 6 bay leaves
  • a few celery stalks or a large bunch of celery leaves (I always have leaves left after using the stalk for mirepoix)
  • 500ml (2.5 cup) water
  • 200ml (1 cup) milk
  • a few tablespoons of sour cream or tart yogurt
  • 250g of cornmeal
  • 140g of mature ewe milk cheeses (I don't have access to the traditional Burduf cheese, so I used a mixture of Manchego and and some smoked mozzarella) - I appreciated the addition of smokiness, so if you don't include it, maybe throw in a bit of smoked paprika or bacon.
  • salt to taste
  • pepper
  • some fresh thyme (optional and not traditional)


  • Cook the water, bay leaves and celery into a quick stock, you can also use a chicken stock of you have some on hand.
  • Remove the leaves and add the milk and cornmeal.
  • Cook while stirring until it is thickened.
  • Mix in the rest of the ingredients.
  • Pour into an oven proof serving bowl(s) or clay pan.
  • At this point I chilled it overnight, perhaps you can proceed without chilling.
  • Place a few small pieces of butter on top of the pans.
  • Bake at high heat (210C) until the top is browned at spots (my image doesn't show it browned - the second batch I baked longer, until it did, and found it to be better).
  • Bests served along stews (of beans, mushrooms, or meat - for examples search for "tokana") and a cup of red wine.




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  • Delicious 2

~ Shai N.

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