This is the classic, meltingly soft bowl of our favorite comfort food, just waiting for its crown of butter and cheese.
2 cups water
1 quart milk
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups yellow cornmeal (preferably coarse-ground)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Bring the water, milk, and salt to a boil in a large saucepan and reduce the heat to moderate so that water comes to a simmer.
2. Pour in the cornmeal by the handful in a thin stream very slowly, stirring constantly with a whisk to prevent lumps. Keep the mixture at a bare simmer and stir constantly. Cook the polenta, stirring and crushing any lumps that might form against the side of the pan, for 10 minutes. (As it cooks the polenta will thicken considerably.) The polenta is done when it comes away effortlessly from the side of the pan.
3. Remove the pan from the heat, and whisk the butter, Parmesan, and black pepper into the polenta. Turn polenta out on a serving platter and serve hot.
This is the classic, meltingly soft bowl of our favorite comfort food, just waiting for its crown of butter and cheese. Serves 8 as a first course