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This is the Romanian form of cornmeal mush that is called Polenta in northern Italy. If you make more than what you need right away, you can bake or fry it later on (check my other recipes), which is more delicious than the first day!
- Place the cornmeal in a bowl and stir in 2 cups cold water. Mash any lumps with the side of a wooden spoon.
- In a large heavy saucepan, bring 4 cups water and salt to a boil.
- Gradually add the cornmeal, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
- Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring constantly until it becomes thick and hard to stir.
- Remove from heat.
- Dip the spoon in cold water, and push the cornmeal to the center of the pot. Put back over low heat for a minute or two (don't stir!) to release steam and loosen the mixture from the bottom of the pan.
- Turn the mamaliga onto a board.
- Smooth the surface with a wet metal spatula, spreading the mixture to form a rectangle about 1-2 inches thick.
- The traditional Romanian way to cup this into squares is with a taut string held between your thumbs and index finger. Slip it under the mamaliga and raise it quickly upward.
- The plain mamaliga can be served plain as is (great with stew), or top it with feta cheese. It can also be refrigerated for a day or 2, or frozen.