~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pressure Cooker Polenta....and Mamaliga cu Branza si Ou(a classic Romanian Dish)

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
hot polenta

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:).


Ashleyta said...

Yummm! Thanks for posting this...can hardly wait to try it out w/ my pressure cooker =)

Speranta said...

Ellie, reteta ta pentru mamaliga .Am incercat-o si imi place foarte mult ...am folosit "pressure cooker " Trebuie sa incerc ,reteta mamaliga cu branza unt si ou cum mancam la mama acasa ...Multumesc pentru toate retetele tale si mai ales pentru prezentarea lor!felicitari

Ellie said...

Ashleyta, Can hardly wait to see how you like the polenta in the pressure cooker:)...

Speranta, Multumesc mult pentru incurajare. Imi pare foarte bine ca iti place si tie mamaliga in pressure cooker:)! Da, mamaliga cu branza si ou, ca la mama acasa, este cea mai buna... nu se compara:)

Unknown said...

Wow.. I've never heard of this. Sounds DELICIOUS!


hip pressure cooking
making pressure cookers hip again, one recipe at a time!

Ellie said...

Elle, Oh, you gotta try it and let me know what you think. I am hoping you will like it:)
BTW, I like your pressure cooker blog...lots of great tips and recipes...
Thanks for stopping by...~Ellie

mub said...

I've never tried polenta before but I bought a bag of a rather fine-grained variety when the mill near me was out of cornflour... so I might need to give this a go!

Ellie said...

Mub, I use the fine-grained variety as well and love it. It would be great to use for this type of recipe. Polenta is similar to grits in texture except with a corn flavor. I sure hope you can give this recipe a try...and that you will also like it.
Thanks for stopping by...~Ellie

Ashleyta said...

Just made my first mamaliga (w/ grilled fish and garlic sauce ;-)...it was great! Tnx again for posting it...love ya =)

Ellie said...

Ashleyta, Yay! So glad you liked it...and that it worked for you as well:). Grilled fish and garlic with some warm mamaliga sounds delcious.
Thanks so much for the feedback...and for taking the time to write. ~Ellie

Mihaela said...

This is a great idea for mamaliga in a pressure cooker ! Viva Romanian mamaliga !!!

Ellie said...

Mihaela, If you have a pressure cooker and have never tried making polenta in it, you might want to give it a try. It's worth it!
Thanks for stopping by~Ellie

Haseena said...

Thanks for this recipe! Just made it and it is so smooth and creamy - just what I'd been craving these wintry days! I always used Nicolae Klepper's (Taste of Romania) recipes for polenta, but they were too stiff for my liking. Plus all that stirring for 20 minutes and I always had lumps!

I got lumps here too, even though I tried to pour in a stream and whisk with the other hand. Luckily I had my immersion blender nearby. I pureed all the lumps out, put it back on the heat and pressure-cooked it. I also have an electric stove, so your timing of five minutes was perfect.

I don't use my pressure cooker much - my mother gave it to me and I only use it to make Beef with Rice and Carrots (traditional Persian dish), which is also the first thing she taught me to cook. I'll be trying more of your recipes with it now :)

Merry Christmas!

Ellie said...

Haseena, Oh, you are very welcome! I am so glad you enjoyed the recipe, even with your quick thinking of using the immersion blender:).

I know if the water is cold you won't get the lumps when you sprinkle in the cornmeal. But for me, having an electric stovetop, well, it just doesn't allow me to start with cold water( the polenta burns... I tried many times)... I need to heat the water a bit, though not boiling, and then I can whisk the cornmeal in....I do whisk vigorously to get any lumps that may form and put the lid on. In any case, looks like you ended up with it alright:)

I , too, don't care much for the thicker polenta... and simply love this version. You know, sometimes I leave the lid on for another minute or two ( off the heat) before releasing the pressure... makes for a fluffier/softer polenta. So glad you enjoyed it, though!

You should give the risotto recipe I have posted here a try... it's in the recipe index, under pressure cooker recipes. That is delicious, also!

But thanks for stopping by, and fpr sharing your feedback. I really appreciate it! By the way, the Persian rice sounds wonderful... I love Persian food!

Have a wonderful and merry Christmas with your family!

David Herron said...

I just tried this with our newly-purchased Instant Pot. It's my first experience with pressure cooking, too. I've made mamaliga in a pot and was hoping the pressure cooker would relieve me of spending an hour stirring and stirring ...

The result was okay - a little runny and not cooked enough.

Also there was a fair bit of stuff stuck to the bottom of the pot. Obviously from making it by hand I know mamaliga likes to stick to the bottom of the pot, hence the need to keep stirring and stirring. And inside the pressure cooker that's not possible.


Ellie said...

David, Thanks for stopping by and sharing your feedback. I am not familiar with an electric pressure cooker, but I'm assuming the electric instant pot acts the same as a regular stovetop pressure cooker.... Though it may differ and give you a bit different results.

But here are my thoughts... in addition to the ones mentioned in the post.

The type of polenta used will affect the result. The coarser kind(the one you find at a natural food store) usually takes longer to cook and does not absorb the water as the finer grind. So you will need to increase the cooking time.

I'm not sure if you can heat the water before adding the polenta in an electric pressure cooker, but when using the stovetop pressure cooker, I start warming the water to the point of simmering and then slowly add the polenta and mix with a whisk(this is important) until thoroughly combined... this helps with less sticking on the bottom... this thickens the mixture slightly w/out having the polenta grinds settling on the bottom (making it stick).

You can cook the polenta for another couple of minutes longer if you find it too runny.... or simply reduce water amount for a thicker polenta. When you initially remove the lid there might be some water on the surface and the polenta thicker on the bottom. This is normal. Use a whisk to thoroughly mix it to get out any lumps and the polenta will thicken and become smooth. Again using the stovetop pressure cooker, you have the option of cooking it a bit further on the fire if you need to thicken it more.

Also, allowing the polenta to sit after you've mixed it will thicken eventually.

Hope that helps a bit... sometimes, trying the recipe for a few times, adjusting water and/or cooking time... will help you achieve results that work for you. Eventually you'll get it right:)... I still use this method for making mamaliga... and will never go back to the old style. But having said that I don't like my mamaliga very thick... you can see it in the pics it's not the thick kind:).