I love polenta and grits, but not until a couple of days ago had I ever made them at home. I found this recipe and made it for the first time last night and it was very easy. I froze two portions to use later and have found several recipes on-line for other variations I want to make. I will post them after I make them.
1 to 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1 tablespoon coarse salt, or as needed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups "instant" polenta
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Bring a kettle filled with about 4 cups of water to a boil, then lower the heat to very low and keep warm. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan. Toss in the bay leaves and 1 tablespoon salt and stir in the olive oil.
Working with a small handful of the cornmeal at a time, let it fall through your fingers into the boiling seasoned water, while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. (Pay special attention to the corners as you stir; it is there that the polenta will stick and scorch first.) It should take about 5 minutes to add all the cornmeal.
When all the cornmeal is added, the mixture should be smooth and thick and begin to perk like a little volcano. Lower the heat so the polenta continues to perk slowly, and cook, stirring constantly, until it is smooth and shiny, about 5 minutes. If at any point during the cooking the polenta becomes too thick to stir easily, add some of the water from the kettle--about 1/2 cup--to loosen the consistency a little. It is possible that you will not need to add all the water in the kettle before the cornmeal is tender. The polenta is ready to serve at this point, or you can choose to cook it an extra minute or two, to intensify the flavor.
Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the butter and cheese, and pour into a ceramic serving bowl. Let the polenta stand for up to 10 minutes before serving. The longer the polenta stands, the firmer its texture will be.