Polenta & Chilli Honey Shortbread – DE MÂNĂ. Transylvanian food stories

Polenta & Chilli Honey Shortbread

Sweet or savoury? The big question… We’re covering both right here! We love a bit of mixing it up and that delicate balance of sweet and savoury in the same dish.

We are also big fans of one bowl recipes without endless lists of complex ingredients. This one is so simple to make, no mess and includes just a few storecupboard ingredients. The shortbread has a fabulous mildly hot flavour and a super interesting melt ing the mouth, crumbly texture.

Polenta & Chilli Honey Shortbread

Firstly, we’re using one of the most staple Romanian pantry ingredients… Polenta known as ‘mamaliga’ in Romania. This humble ingredient has a prominent place in Romania’s cuisine. It is most commonly made into a cornmeal porridge and accompanied with many different meals. Traditionally it was the food of peasants or shepherds as the ingredients and cooking method are extremely simple. It was even made high up in the mountains whilst shepherds tend to their flocks of sheep. In particular, shepherds stuffed their cooked polenta with sheeps cheese and then baked in on an open fire - this is known as ‘Bulz’… but that’s a story for another day…

We’re combining this polenta with some plain flour, butter, a pinch of salt and our very own wild flower honey with chilli. Although this chilli honey is hot hot hot if you dive in straight from the spoon, when combined in this quantity and baked with the other ingredients it provides a beautiful hint of chilli that pairs perfectly with a strong mature cheese and some sharp pickles.

Shop Chill Honey HERE…

We’ve used ‘branză de burduf’, a traditional Romanian, soft kneaded sheeps cheese which is aged in pine bark. Made with pride by the shepherds in the mountains of Transylvania, in particular Sibiu County, for hundreds of years. It requires great skill and time to perfect and is one of the oldest Romanian specialities, with only a few still produce it according to traditional recipes and methods. You could replace it with a matured sheeps cheese or even a strong, sharp cheddar on this occasion.

INGREDIENTS

100g polenta
170g plain flour
120g unsalted butter (cold)
1 tsp salt

50g chilli honey 
METHOD
  1. Grease and line a tart dish (or square tray if you prefer). Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/ Gas Mark 4.
  2. Add all ingredients except the honey either to a large bowl and rub together with your fingers or briefly pulse in the food processor until a fine breadcrumb like texture is formed.
  3. Warm the honey very slightly until just runny and then add slowly to the polenta mix. Mix until well combined and a dough is formed. If the mixture slightly too wet, just work in a touch more flour.
  4. Press the mixture into the lined tray evenly (it should be around 1cm thick.) Prick surface with a fork several times.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown t the edges. Once out of the oven cut into the appropriate number of pieces - triangle wedges if you have made in a round or rectangles if you have made in a square. Leave to cool on a wire rack and then remove from tray.

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