Polenta, writes Chez Panisse’s Cal Peternell in Twelve Recipes, is “more ratio than recipe.” The standard is 4 parts water to 1 part polenta, simmered for 30 minutes. Be careful to add the polenta to the boiling water in a slow, steady stream with one hand as you whisk with the other—this will prevent lumps from forming. (If you end up with a few lumps despite your best efforts, don’t sweat it; it’ll still taste delicious.) Enriching it at the end with butter and cheese isn’t strictly necessary.
- 6 cup cold water, plus up to 1/2 cup more if needed
- 1 tbl Kosher salt
- 11⁄2 cup polenta
- 2 tbl unsalted butter
- 11⁄2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Bring the water and salt to a boil in heavy-bottomed, 2- to 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.
When the water starts to boil, add the polenta in a steady stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. When the polenta begins to bubble, lower the heat to medium-low. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir.
Let the polenta simmer gently, adjusting the heat to low as necessary. Cook, stirring frequently, until the polenta is thick and looks creamy, about 0 minutes. if it looks too thick, add up to 1/2 cup additional water.
Remove the polenta from the heat and stir in the butter and cheese. Serve immediately.