For one of my favourite foods, I grew up thinking that “nachynka” (also nachinka or начинка) was the word for cornmeal. It actually means stuffing. Also known as Bukovynska nachynka if it has bacon in it. But, this is a basic but delicious cornmeal side dish at heart.
Nachynka starts out as a basic polenta recipe to which you add eggs and onions and bake it in the oven. I made this an embarrassing number of times trying to get this one right for the Instant Pot – and it’s worth it. Instead of stirring the cornmeal on the stove for 45 minutes, the Instant Pot makes that a quick 9 minutes!
I associate nachynka with weddings. Ukrainian church halls in Canada make giant sheets of it. My own Baba’s recipe for nachynka casually says “Serves 100” at the bottom. We’ll scale this down to fit in the Instant Pot.
Nachynka starts out as a basic polenta recipe made with milk. I knew that milk in the Instant Pot would just curdle, and my recipe adds the dairy mid-way. If you’re looking for a version with bacon, check out my recipe for Bukovinian Nachinka.
As a starting point, I tried different recipes for polenta in the Instant Pot. It turns out there are a lot of bad recipes out there for basic Instant Pot polenta. The recipe from Martha Stewart’s Instant Pot cookbook never came to pressure at all (Thought it was my fault so I tried it twice!). Luckily, I was there to stop it before it burned both times. Other recipes and videos left out important little details that, I think, make a huge difference.
My Instant Onions give you a big head start on this recipe. If you don’t have a bunch on hand, you can start by making the recipe (and using the leftovers for other delicious things). Otherwise, finely chop up a small onion and slowly cook it with butter on low heat for about half an hour.
To start the cornmeal, bring four cups of water to a roaring boil in your Instant Pot using the glass lid. It’s clear so you don’t need to peek. Add the one cup of polenta or cornmeal and quickly whisk it in. Because you used the glass lid, not as much water will evaporate during this boiling step.
Then, put on the lid for pressure cooking and set to Manual High Pressure for 9 minutes. Since you’ve already got it boiling, it should come up to pressure quickly.
Meanwhile, get started on your eggs. Crack four.
Beat those eggs up. I use a flat beater from Japan (Here’s the closest thing to it). Add ¼ cup of whipping cream, one teaspoon of sugar, one teaspoon of salt, and the cooked onions (roughly a one third of a cup)
Once the cornmeal’s time is up, do a quick release. Do a quick whisk in the pressure cooker and scoop out about one cup of the mixture. Now, you’ll temper the egg mixture with that super hot cornmeal and quickly combine.
Add this tempered mixture back into the Instant Pot and again whisk together.
Add a teaspoon of baking powder to the whole mixture and whisk again. Then pour into the casserole dish of your choosing.
This will puff up (yay baking powder). If you’re right at the top, add a collar the way you would for a souffle. Or, use a rectangular casserole – less puff but also less deflation after it cools.
Bake at 325°F for an hour in the oven or until the top browns. Let it cool off a little before serving.
- Using Instant Onions gives you at least a 30 minute head start
- Cooking the cornmeal in the Instant Pot takes 9 minutes instead of stirring for 45 minutes
Over an hour saved over the traditional recipe! (Plus intermittent stirring instead of constant stirring)
- Instant Pot
- Instant Pot glass lid
- Casserole or souffle dish
Serves: 8 servings
- ⅓ cup of Instant Onions (or one finely chopped, small onion cooked on low heat)
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup polenta or cornmeal
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Bring 4 cups of water to a roaring boil in the Instant Pot using the Saute - More setting covering with the Instant Pot glass lid.
- When the water is boiling, quickly whisk in 1 cup of cornmeal. Seal the Instant Pot with the lid for pressure cooking, and set to Manual - High Pressure for 9 minutes.
- Meanwhile, beat the four eggs and add the 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ cup whipping cream and ⅓ cup of cooked onions
- When the Instant Pot time is up, do a quick release and quickly whisk the cornmeal mixture.
- Remove one cup of the cornmeal mixture and quickly whisk that into the egg mixture. Add this back into the main cornmeal mixture and whisk again.
- Add one teaspoon of baking powder and whisk it some more.
- Pour into a casserole dish.
- Bake for an hour at 325°F. Cool before serving.