Legendary Dishes | Mămăliguţă cu brânză şi Smântână (cornmeal with smoked bacon, curd cheese and sour cream)


Mamaliga is made throughout the Balkans, the cheese and cream being the specific difference between regions. Generally the choice is curd cheese made from cow, goat or sheep milk, sirene in Bulgaria, feta in Greece, telemea in Romania. The choice of cream varies between thick sour cream known throughout the Balkans and eastern Europe as smetana (smântână in Romania), and home made fermented cream called kajmak. Kajmak is preferred in the eastern Balkan countries where mamaliga is known as kacamak.

  • 2 litres water
  • 500 g cornmeal, coarse ground
  • 500 g curd cheese, creamed
  • 500 ml sour cream
  • 300 g hard cheese, grated
  • 300 g smoked bacon, diced
  • 50 g butter, unsalted

Prepare the polenta using the previous method, then stir the butter in while it is still hot. This will produce a softer polenta. Preheat oven to 160ºC. Fry bacon over a medium heat for five minutes until it is crispy, pour fat into a large baking tray. Spread a thin layer of polenta on the tray, sprinkle the grated cheese followed by the sour cream, dots of curd cheese and the bacon, repeat until there is only cheese and cream left. Finish with a layer of grated cheese, curd cheese and sour cream. Bake for 45 minutes, until the top begins to brown.