Baked Polenta (Mamaliga) with Burduf Cheese
This recipe for Romanian polenta, called mamaliga, requires a special kind of cheese called “branza de burduf”. With a soft, crumbly texture, salty and with a strong flavor, this type of Romanian cheese goes perfectly with the mild taste of polenta.
Since we went to the mountains recently, I wanted to buy a special kind of burduf cheese which is mainly produced by manufacturers in the Bucegi Mountains. My choice for this dish is a burduf cheese in fir tree bark, with a unique aroma and texture.
For this type of cheese, sweet “caș” cheese is cut into small pieces, salted and hand-mixed. After the cheese is processed, manufacturers use freshly-cut fir tree bark to create cylinders where they stuff the cheese until it’s compact. The cylinders are sewn and a lid is added on top. This way, the cheese is sealed inside the bark. The fir tree bark gives the cheese a distinct aroma which makes it truly special.
For this recipe of polenta with burduf cheese, you’ll need a few simple ingredients: cornmeal, burduf cheese and butter. That’s it. Add water, salt and you’re done. The flavor of the burduf cheese is so intense that you won’t need any more additions to this decadent dish.
Here’s how to make this hearty, delicious baked polenta with burduf cheese:
2 L water
500-600 g cornmeal
500 g burduf cheese
50 g butter
1 tsp salt
- In a pot, bring the water to a boil and add the salt. Reduce heat to low.
- Gradually add the cornmeal while stirring vigorously. Depending on how thick the mixture is, you can add a bit more cornmeal. It should be pretty thin, as it will harden as it boils.
- Boil the mixture and continue stirring for 10 minutes. Make sure you stir all the time, or else it might stick to the pot.
- Preheat oven to 180 C degrees.
- Rub the butter onto a medium-sized baking dish.
- In the buttered baking dish, spread half of the polenta, then add chunks of burduf cheese on top.
- Add the rest of the polenta on top, and then another layer of burduf cheese.
- Bake for about 10 minutes or until the burduf cheese is golden brown.
- Serve warm, simple or with pickles.