Creamy polenta makes a perfect, soft bed for stews, ragùs, and sautéed vegetables or seafood. It takes some time and stirring, but it’s easy to make—there’s no prep work—and worth the effort for the satisfying warmth and comfort it provides.
Stir and simmer: Combine the cornmeal, water, and salt in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan. Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to keep the polenta from forming lumps. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often to prevent the polenta from sticking to the bottom of the pot, until the grains are fully cooked, about 45 minutes.
Serve: When the polenta is done, taste and season with more salt if needed. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the butter and Parmigiano cheese. Serve immediately.
I use a combination of fine and medium grind cornmeal.
The polenta will bubble from time to time while you’re stirring, so be careful and watch for spatters.
After 45 minutes, the polenta should be thick and creamy but still pourable. If you find it is too thick towards the end of cooking, stir in a little more water.