Nachynka: Soft Ukrainian Cornmeal Casserole

Nachynka: Soft Ukrainian Cornmeal Casserole

My childhood food memories are pleasant ones.  Mom’s sweet and sour spareribs over rice.  Grandpa’s spicy spaghetti on outlandishly humongous platters.  Baba’s pyrohe (perogies) with a side of–my favorite–nachynka.  Nachynka, like so many other Ukrainian favorites, is a humble peasant’s dish; simple, inexpensive ingredients are finessed with love and time (and, most often, a Baba’s knowing hands!) and plucked from the oven or burner as a real masterpiece.  Nachynka is a simple, soft, and creamy cornmeal casserole that starts on the stovetop and ends in the oven.  Baba’s–of course–featured heavy farm cream, but this version, which I excitedly found on food.com is a great (slightly leaner!) replication of my late Baba’s.  I’ve since made it twice and plan to add it to the usual rotation when we eat other Ukrainian favorites.  My toddler also devours it like it’s dessert!

So now, from my Baba’s table to yours, here is a classic nachynka recipe for you to dazzle your friends with the next time you boil up some Cheemos ;)

Nachynka (Cornmeal Casserole) via food.com

½ cup of butter
1 medium onion, minced
1 cup cornmeal
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
4 cups of whole milk, warmed
4 well-beaten , room temperature eggs
1 tsp baking powder
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter and add in onion.  Cook onion over medium-low heat until softened and translucent.  Do not brown.
  2. Stir in the cornmeal, salt, and sugar, mixing well.
  3. Add in warm milk and, over low heat, stir continuously until mixture thickens (about 5 minutes).
  4. Remove from heat for several minutes, then pour in beaten eggs very slowly, continously stirring vigorously to prevent eggs from scrambling.
  5. Add in baking powder and mix well.
  6. Pour entire mixture into a greased casserole dish (approx 3 quart size).
  7. Bake in oven uncovered at 325°F for 1 hour.