Cheesy Polenta Muffins

mamaliga muffins 019

This is a muffin recipe that I bet you’ve never seen before. It is based on a type of polenta called “mamaliga”, which a corn mush that is very popular in Romania and Moldova. In fact, mamaliga is considered to be the national dish of Romania and Moldova.  Mamaliga is very similar to the Italian polenta. The main difference between the two is that polenta is soft and has the texture of oatmeal. Mamaliga, on the other hand, is firm and has the texture of bread. Indeed, it makes a great gluten-free and wheat-free substitute for bread. The firmness of mamaliga is what makes it possible for us to make muffins out of it. A quick online search showed only one recipe for mamaliga muffins on a blog called Gourmandelle, which exactly one more than I expected. It looks very appetizing, but a bit more time-consuming than I prefer. Here is a simple recipe for mamaliga muffins that I made for breakfast a few weeks ago. They were delicious, filling, and a big hit with the family. The last photo shows how cheesy they are on the inside.

Ingredients

3 cups cold water

1 cup yellow corn meal (finely ground)

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

1 cup (approximately) shredded cheese, preferably sharp cheddar

Instructions

  • Lightly grease a 6-cup muffin pan with either vegetable oil or cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Pour cold water into a medium (1-2 quarts) thick-walled sauce pan, add salt, and set on low-to-medium heat.
  • When the water starts to boil, slowly pour about 2 tablespoons of corn meal into the water while stirring. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes. This is done to prevent the rest of the cornmeal from clumping as it enters the water, since clumps are much less likely to form in water that already has cornmeal in it.
  • Slowly pour in the rest of the cornmeal while stirring, preferably with either a wooden or a plastic spoon. (Material of the spoon is important since corn porridge sticks to metal.) The corn meal should be mixed in as soon as it enters the water in order to prevent clumps.
  • Let the porridge simmer for about 5 minutes, until it thickens to consistency of thick oatmeal.
  • Add butter and stir vigorously for about 3-4 minutes.
  • Spoon the porridge into the muffin cups until it fills the cups all the way to the top.
  • Wait 4-5 minutes for the porridge to cool down slightly.
  • Make an indentation at the top of the porridge in the muffin cup that goes most of the way down to the bottom of the muffin. (Use either a spoon, or if the porridge is cool enough, then your fingers).
  • Stuff shredded cheese into the indentation and cover it back up with porridge. The photo below shows the muffins ready to go into the oven.
Ready to bake

Ready to bake

  • Bake the muffins at 350 °F for 20 minutes.
  • Optional: after the baking step, sprinkle the muffin tops with either ground allspice or coriander. All this does is gives them a more attractive appearance.
Just out of the oven

Just out of the oven

Cheesy on the inside!

Cheesy on the inside!

By the way… This post was added to Mouthwatering Mondays.

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