2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cornmeal or imported polenta
Brin the water and salt to a boil in a 3 to 4 quart saucepan. Slowly stir in the cornmeal with a whisk to avoid lumps. Once the cornmeal has alll been whisked in, begin stirring with a ling-handled wooden spoon. (The polenta will spatter, so you might want to wear an oven mitt to protect yourself from burns). Turn the heat down to medium and stir continuously for 30-40 minutes until the polenta is thick and comes away from the sides of the pan. Serve immediately.
If you want to prepare the polenta a few hours in advance, but still serve it soft, place the covered saucepan into a larger pan with 1 inch of simmering water in the bottom and stir occasionally. If it is a little too firm at serving time, vigorously stir in a bit of chicken broth or milk.
A great variation on the basic polenta recipe is Broiled Polenta. To prepare, cook 1 recipe of polenta as directed above (or 1/2 of a 13 ounce package of instant polenta), spread it in a greased 9 x 9 inch baking pan and set aside for at least 30 minutes until firm. Sprinkle the top with 4 tablespoons of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Place under the broiler for 7-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and lightly browned. Cut into 4 squares and then cut each square in half to make 2 triangles. Serve 2 triangles per person.