Pressure Cooker Polenta....and Mamaliga cu Branza si Ou~ or ~ Soft Polenta with Cheese and Egg (a classic Romanian Dish)
For this post, I decided to share a recipe using the pressure cooker. Most of you might not have one, but some of you may. The recipe can still be made using a regular pot, so in case you would like to try it, you can.
I love, love my pressure cooker....ok, pressure cookers:). I have a 6 qt and a 4 qt pressure cooker that I use quite often. Sometimes, I will use both pressure cookers at the same time. For example, if I make a pot of stuffed cabbage rolls using the 6 Qt, I will then use the 4 Qt to make the polenta . At other times, I may be cooking some chicken stock in one and be making risotto in another. I find the food actually tastes better in the pressure cooker... and I don't have to cook the dishes for so very long. I love the taste of beans cooked in the pressure cooker versus the canned beans...or even the regular stove top method. I don't know what it is, but the beans cooked in a pressure cooker tastes so, so much better. Oh, and the risotto is just incredibly delicious! Absolutely no stirring ...and cooked in 7 minutes! It's worth having a pressure cooker just for that:). I don't mean to go on and on...but I do love using my pressure cooker:)...and if you own and use a pressure cooker, you know what I mean.
Anyway, I thought I would share a simple recipe for making polenta as well as a recipe for a classic Romanian dish called, Mamaliga cu Branza si Ou or Soft Polenta with Cheese and Egg. It is a simple dish. A peasant-style sort of dish.... but oh so delicious. If you've never tried this combination before(the polenta with egg and cheese), you might want to give it a try. It is one of my husband's favorite meals and he requests it often. I prepare this dish mostly in the wintery months, when we want something simple, quick, and comforting...the polenta will warm you up rather quickly.
My husband and I loved this dish while growing. It was a dish that our moms would often make for the family and I think all of us looked forward to it. It was the type of dish that none of us complained about. Everyone liked it....kids and adults alike. Sometimes, our mom would also add some sour cream to serve alongside.
Now if you don't care for feta cheese, you can substitute it with some sour cream and maybe some pan-fried homemade sausage...ok, maybe you could just use a different cheese:).
Give this recipe a try, even if you've never had it before...you just might like it:) Hope you enjoy...
Tip: in case you would like to try the recipe and do not have a pressure cooker, you can see my very old post on making polenta in a regular pot by clicking here....Stove-top Polenta
Note: Please excuse the not so great photo of the Mamaliga cu Ou si Branza...I was planning on only posting the pressure cooker polenta... last minute, I thought it would be great to share the rest of the meal:). I am hoping the idea is still there.
You will need:
Pressure Cooker Polenta...This recipe makes a softer type of polenta...not so stiff( though it hardens as it cools).
4 cups water
1 cup cornmeal*
salt, to taste
butter, to taste~definitely optional
* the timing and water amount works for finely ground cornmeal...not the coarser or whole grain type of cornmeal.
1. Add water and salt to the pot and heat on high until hot enough where small bubbles form on the surface.
2. Add cornmeal in a steady stream while quickly mixing it in the hot water with a large whisk, making sure there are no lumps. The whisk actually helps to eliminate the lumps. This should take no longer than a few seconds.
3. Quickly place the pressure cooker lid on top, lock into place, and wait for it to come to pressure.
4. When the pot comes to full pressure( the button is up), immediately lower the heat to low and start the timer for 5 minutes*.
*Now, if making this for the first time, it might take you a couple of tries to see what the exact time might be for you. If you feel, it might need a minute or so, you can try that next time. For me, at my altitude and using an electric stove, it takes exactly 5 minutes... every time. It took me a few tries to get it right. I first tested adding the cornmeal in cold water, but it absorbed the water too quickly and since I have an electric stove, it started burning by the time it came to pressure...so that is why I now add the cornmeal to the simmering water. Having said that, you might still be able to add the cornmeal in cold water if you have a gas stove and then bring it up to pressure.
5. When the 5 minutes are up, turn off heat and remove the pot from the heat source( if electric) and use natural release( by allowing the pressure to fall naturally without turning the knob).... or using the quick release( by turning knob to release steam). I often do both ways... the quick release when I don't have time to wait:)... or the natural release when I do have time to wait and want the polenta to be even more cooked or "plumped up".
6. Open lid and you will notice a bit of water still left on top( not very much)... using a whisk mix the polenta( and optional butter) until smooth. Using a whisk takes out any lumps that may have formed.
7. Serve immediately. You can pour the polenta in a flat pan and allow to cool and use in other recipes such as fried polenta, baked polenta, polenta bites, etc.
For Polenta with Cheese and Eggs: for 1-2 people
2 eggs, hardboiled
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese, lightly packed
1 1/2 TBS butter
1. Smash the hard boiled eggs with the feta cheese and butter.
2. Pour hot polenta over the egg and cheese mixture. Serve.
~ Alternately, you can smash the eggs and cheese with some butter and then place a few more butter slices on top of the egg and cheese mixture...then pour hot polenta over the whole surface. Wait a minute or so... then you can see the butter melting when you take a bite:).