4 to 6 servings
Don’t be tempted to boil the polenta to get it to cook faster; the slow absorption gives it a smoother, silkier texture. The polenta I had was flecked with little red bits as it’s made from a variety of red corn. You can find polenta in well-stocked supermarkets, Italian specialty shops, natural food stores, and I’ve even found it in markets that sell Indian foods here in Paris up behind the Gare du Nord, labeled semoule de maïs. Soft polenta is especially good with braised meats and stews as it works well with sauces long-cooked dishes. It’s also great with stewed greens or sautéed mushrooms, cooked in plenty of butter. Or even plain, with a dollop of mascarpone on top. Some folks use chicken stock in place of some or all of the water, which is an option. If you want to make firm polenta that you can grill, use 1 cup (140g) of polenta and when it’s fully cooked, spread it into a greased baking sheet and let it cool. When firm, cut into slices, brush with oil, and grill.
3 cups (0.75L) water
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (105g) polenta
2/3 cup (60g) grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
optional: 2-3 teaspoons minced fresh herbs
2 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
1. Bring the water and salt to a boil in a saucepan.
2. Whisk in the polenta. When the water comes back to a boil, reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and continue to whisk the polenta frequently (more frequently toward the end of cooking), until it’s thick. It will take about 45 minutes. If the heat on your stove does not go low enough to simmer it gently, use a flame-tamer.
3. Remove from heat and whisk in the cheese, herbs (if using), and butter.

Storage: Polenta should be served warm. It can be refrigerated and kept for up to three days. Reheat it on the stovetop or in a microwave oven, adding additional liquid, if necessary.