SOFT POLENTA WITH BAY LEAVES AND PARMIGIANO REGGIANO (for four)
10 cups (about) water
4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 small Turkish bay leaves
2 cups polenta (coarse cornmeal, available at Italian markets, natural food stores and some supermarkets. If unavailable, substitute regular yellow cornmeal and cook for about half the time)
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Bring 5 cups water to a simmer in medium saucepan. Cover and keep warm over low heat.
- Pour 5 cups water into a large pot. Add salt, oil and bay leaves; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; gradually add cornmeal, whisking to avoid lumps. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered until polenta is thick, whisking often, about 3 minutes. Whisk in 1 cup of reserved hot water. Continue to simmer until polenta is smooth and thick, whisking often, about 3 minutes. Add remaining hot water, 1 cup at a time, and cook until very thick after each addition, whisking often, about 20 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaves and stir in the butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
adapted from Lydia Bastianich, Bon Appetit Magazine, September, 2003