2 cups water
1 quart milk
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups yellow cornmeal (preferably coarse-ground)
1. Bring the water, milk, and kosher salt to
a boil in a large saucepan, and reduce the heat to moderate so that the liquid comes to a simmer.
2. Pour in the cornmeal by the handful in a thin, steady stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. After the cornmeal is whisked in, keep the mixture at a bare simmer and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook the polenta, stirring and crushing any lumps that might form against the side of the pan, for 30 minutes. (As it cooks, the polenta will thicken considerably.)
3. Quickly turn the polenta into an oiled 12-cup mixing bowl, whose base has a diameter of about 4 inches. Let the polenta stand for 20 minutes until firm. Flip the polenta out onto a platter and scoop out about 2 cups of polenta from the center, forming a ring (the central hole will be about 4 inches in diameter.) Fill the hole with a stew of your choice. Let the stew spill out over the edge.
Another great traditional way to treat firm polenta is to make a mold of it, and then scoop out the center. The hole in the center may be filled with any kind of stew; we're especially partial to a hearty, chunky sausage-and-pepper stew with polenta. The polenta you scoop out may be reserved for another use. Serves 4