It's simple, but time consuming and can be made elegant, such as infusing with herbs and cheese, or simple and vegan, cooking with only water and salt.
Polenta cooks on the stovetop for a long time. You'll need a heavy kettle or pot, wooden spoon or heavy silicon scraper, water, salt, and cornmeal.
You can purchase ready-made polenta, (although I have not tried it). But, it is simple to make your own. I purchase course cornmeal, either by the bag or in the canister. The directions for polenta are usually on the back of the package, but the ratio is usually 4 cups of water to 1 cup of cornmeal.
Heat the water and salt in a large, heavy pot until boiling. Slowly, add the cornmeal, stirring constantly to avoid clumping. Stir continually until the mixture reboils and then lower the heat to a simmer. Continue to stir, occasionally, while keeping an eye on the polenta. You don't want it to burn, but you don't want the heat to be too low, either. Continue to cook, stir, and keep an eye on it until the mixture is thick and when you remove the spoon, it sticks and leaves an indent in the polenta. It should take a minimum of 30 minutes. When the polenta is cooked, remove the pot from the heat. You can either transfer it to a bowl or spread it in a prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Polenta is best made in advance, as the extra time gives it a chance to set up.
Here is the polenta sliced, after being prepared and refrigerated for 24 hours. It can now be cubed, grilled, sautéed, roasted, or toasted.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for a delicious recipe using polenta.