Bálmos is an old Transylvanian dish, a kind of polenta made from coarsly ground cornmeal, bacon and sheep milk cheese. It was originally prepared with fatty whey, a byproduct of the manufacture of cheese. In default of whey cornmeal can be cooked in cream or whole milk, but some recipes call for clabber. (Sorry, low-fat and fat free dairy products are out of the question in this case).

Bálmos is served with sheep milk cheese and fried bacon, but feel free to use other cheese that has a characteristic taste. You can scatter the cheese over the dumplings or mix in the polenta while cooking.

Bálmosphoto: zserbo.com


  • 400 ml (~1 2/3 cups) cream
  • 100 ml (~1/2 cup) sour cream
  • 120 g (~2 1/2 oz) polenta (coarsly ground cornmeal)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 20 g (~1 1/5 tbsp) butter
  • 100 g (~3 1/2 oz) sheep milk cheese
  • 80 g (~3 oz) bacon

Chop and fry bacon until crispy. Set aside.

Place cream, sour cream and salt in a saucepan and bring it to a rolling boil. When bubbles aplenty burst, stir in cornmeal. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cook while stirring constantly. Once cornmeal is almost tender and thick enough, start stirring vigorously until grease sweats out. Add butter to the hot dish and keep mixing until butter melts.

Once it’s soft and tender, turn off the heat and pour off the grease in a small bowl. With 2 spoons form dumplings from the polenta and place them onto a platter. Sprinkle the drained grease over the dumplings, then scatter crumbled sheep milk cheese and crispy bacon all over them. Serve immediately.

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