Home cooking: Serbian-style polenta

April 28, 2010

I am third-generation Serbian, and I was born into the Orthodox faith.

This traditional Serbian recipe, cicvara (pronounced "SEETS-vuh-ruh," rolling the R), can be found as a side dish at any special meal to celebrate a festive day at church or at home.

This recipe was given to me by a Serbian family at our original home parish of St. Luke Serbian Orthodox Church in McLean, Va. Every year I would delight to see my favorite dish on the buffet line at church. I finally remembered to get the recipe.

Now I include it for special events at St. Catherine Eastern Orthodox Church in Hagerstown.

The secret to this traditional Serbian dish is to carefully monitor boiling and to stir often.

- Marlene Powell of Boonsboro


1 cup milk
2 cups sour cream
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal

Combine milk, 1 cup sour cream, butter and salt in a saucepan over low heat. Bring to a boil. Add cornmeal, a little at a time, carefully monitor boiling and stir frequently until thick.


Cover, lower the heat and let simmer 30 to 45 minutes until entire mixture starts to float in butter.

Transfer to an 8-inch-by-8-inch casserole dish. With remaining sour cream, spread a layer on top (like icing) just before serving. Serve warm.

Serves 4 to 6.

Cook's note: Double or triple the recipe if serving in a large casserole dish.

-- Courtesy of Marlene Powell, who is a member of St. Catherine's Eastern Orthodox Church in Hagerstown.

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