Romanian cornmeal porridge or mamaliga is very similar to Italian polenta. In the 16th century, through conquest and trade, Romanians began growing corn, and turning it into this hearty mealtime staple. Common for peasants due to its affordability, mamaliga has transformed into a national favorite. The ideal foundation for all sorts of roast meats or vegetables, mamaliga lends itself to recipe variations. Corn meal is a low carbohydrate food, rich in vitamins A and C. Naturally gluten-free, polenta’s high levels of beta-carotene help protect against cancer and heart disease. Enjoy polenta for breakfast as well, warmed up and served with eggs. Beef provides protein and iron, bolstering your energy levels and sustaining your muscles.
- 3 ½ cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup coarse yellow corn meal
- 2 lb cut of beef (brisket works well here)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup water
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In an ovenproof deep skillet, heat the butter over medium high heat. Add the beef, and sear on all sides, seasoning with salt as you turn it. Sear until the beef is golden brown on all sides. Add the onions and carrots, and sauté for 3-4 more minutes. Add the water, and roast the beef in the oven, covered, for 2 hours, until tender.
- While the beef is cooking, make the polenta. In a large pot, bring the stock up to a boil. Add the butter and garlic and stir to combine. While whisking constantly, slowly add the corn meal. Simmer over low heat, covered, for 35-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the corn meal is cooked and tender and all the liquid is absorbed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve the polenta hot, topped with the beef and some of the pan juices.
Optional: You can add some crumbled feta cheese, or low fat sour cream, to the polenta before serving.