~ "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."~

Monday, November 5, 2012

Romanian Cream of Mushroom with Chicken ...or "Ciulama de Ciuperci cu Carne de Pui"

Romanian Cream of Mushroom with Chicken or... "Ciulama de Ciuperci cu Carne de Pui ".  Ah, back to yet another Romanian dish. I really am determined to post more Romanian dishes... all in it's own time though:). This dish was a favorite when growing up. My mom always made this for us, mostly when she had gizzards on hand. Yes, gizzards.... 

Traditionally ciulama is made using gizzards, though chicken hearts can also be added. But the flavor and texture the gizzards add to the gravy... well, it's just really delicious! Maybe it's delicious to me because I grew up with it. I love the slight chew and meatiness of the gizzards. In any case, the ciulama doesn't necessarily have to be made with meat. It can just as easily be made with mushrooms only.... though I would definitely use chicken stock(to make the gravy) for maximum flavor. You can also combine meat and mushrooms... as I have done in this post. 

But you know, everyone has their own version of ciulama. Nowadays, the gizzards are often substituted with dark chicken meat. So I decided to make the ciulama using diced chicken thigh meat... just because I most always have chicken in the freezer. Of course, if you are shooting for a more traditional and country-style ciulama, then you can always substitute the chicken thigh meat with gizzards... just cook the gizzards until tender.

Ciulama, really, is a basic gravy-like dish... normally served over soft polenta (mamaliga). The gravy can be cooked in various ways, but it's usually made using chicken stock and a bit of sour cream. Though sometimes milk is added instead of sour cream, or even a combination of milk and sour cream can be used. But the result often tastes like the 'cream of chicken' or 'cream of mushroom' we know here in the states... only better:). I don't know what it is, but the combination of the gravy over soft polenta is pure comfort food for me. It's quite simple to make and budget-friendly... especially if you make the ciulama with only mushrooms. Love, love this dish. Hope you enjoy...        

Note: This version of "ciulama" can be made with just mushrooms.... just omit the chicken and add a bit more mushrooms, then skip step 1 and 2 of the directions.  

A side note: I made this dish more "bountiful"... with plenty of meat and mushrooms. You can thin out the gravy and "stretch" the dish even more (basically make more gravy to the amount of meat and mushrooms) by simply adding more stock or a combination of stock/milk to the dish and thickening the mixture with a bit of flour/water slurry. 

Tip: If you don't have any sour cream on hand, you can add some milk, or even cream instead... I've made ciulama using sour cream, heavy cream, or milk. ... they all work. Cream, somehow makes it super delicious:)  

You will need:

1 lb diced chicken (thighs)
1 onion, cut in quarters
1 carrot, cut in chunks
1 small parsnip, cut in chunks(if you don't have, you can omit)
1 celery stick, cut in chunks
4 cups water
4 TBS butter, divided
1 lb white mushrooms, sliced
3-4 TBS flour
3 cups(+/-) chicken stock
3 TBS sour cream
salt and pepper
chopped parsley (or dill), can be optional if you do not have 

soft polenta*
*Making polenta using a regular pot on the stovetop can be found... HEREUsing a pressure cooker can be found... HERE.

1. In a medium stock pot, add chicken and vegetables... along with 4 cups of water. Season water with about 2 tsps kosher salt. 

2. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes. 
3. Meanwhile, add 2 TBS of butter to a hot skillet and allow butter to melt. To melted butter, add sliced mushrooms, and cook on med/high until mushrooms are cooked and golden....season with a bit of salt. Remove and set aside. 
4. When stock is cooked,  remove vegetables. Strain the stock, while leaving behind the chicken pieces. Set the chicken aside, next to to the cooked mushrooms. Set the stock aside as well, for later.
5. Clean skillet and heat the remaining 2 TBS( you can add 1 or 2 extra TBS of butter) on med/low heat. Add the flour and cook stirring until it is fully incorporated. Remove the skillet away from the heat and slowly add 2 1/2-3 cups of the reserved stock.... whisking until mixture is free of lumps. 
6. Place the skillet back on the stove, and mix in 3 TBS of sour cream. Add the reserved chicken, and cooked mushrooms. Stir to combine.
7. Continue to cook the ciulama on low heat for an additional 15-20 minutes... or until mixture is thickened. Check seasoning. Sprinkle with dill or parsley, if desired.
I sometimes like to cover the skillet/pot while the ciulama is cooking, lifting the lid halfway and checking the consistency of the sauce.... will remove the lid towards the end of the cooking time. And sometimes I don't cover it at all:)

1. If you notice the sauce is too thick, add a bit more stock as it's cooking in step 7 .
2. If you want to make extra gravy, or you want to use all of the reserved stock, make a slurry of 1-2 TBS of flour and some water/extra stock/or milk... stir some of the slurry in the hot ciulama. Cook until thickened.


siggy said...

This sounds delicious. I would prefer it without the gizzards. Can't do gizzards. Sounds similar to a dish my mom use to make, but she put the meat and mushrooms on egg noodles.

Ellie said...

Hi Siggy, Aww... no gizzards:)? But , yes, it's also delicious with just some regular chicken meat.

Placing the "ciulama" over some egg noodles sounds wonderful as well. It's definitely a favorite of mine... be it with gizzards, or not:).

Thanks for stopping by... Hope your day is going well!

Speranta said...

Hi Elie,ciulama de pui si cu ciuperci de multa vreme nu am m-ai mancat.Ciulama cu mamaliga este o bunatate!

Multumesc pentru reteta!

Un timp placut sa ai!

Ellie said...

Speranta, Si mie imi place ciulamaua cu mamaliga:). Nu am mai facuto de mult chiar, si mi-am propus sa o fac... tare buna a fost!

Multumesc de vizita, si iti doresc si tie un week/end placut!

LamberWBY said...

When do I add parsley or dill? In the last few minutes?

Ellie said...

Boyang, Yes... as a "seasoning"😊... should have included that in the last step. Will add it for clarification... thanks for stopping by!

Unknown said...

I'm glad I came across your recipe and chose to use it. It was my first time making Ciulama and it came out so heavenly! Much thanks!

Ellie said...

2012Beyond, That's wonderful! So glad to hear you enjoyed the ciulama... appreciate you stopping by and sharing your feedback. Always brightens my day to hear a recipe is successful to my readers:). Glad you tried the recipe! Have a wonderful day.