Bring the water and salt to a boil in a 3- 4-quart saucepan. Slowly stir in the cornmeal with a whisk to avoid lumps. Once the cornmeal has all been whisked in, begin stirring with a long-handled wooden spoon. Turn the heat down to medium and stir continuously for 30-40 minutes until the polenta is thick and comes away from the sides of the pan. Stir in cheese if using. Serve immediately.
For Grilled Polenta:
Cook 1 recipe of polenta as directed above, spread in a greased 9x9-inch baking pan and set aside for at least 30 minutes, until firm. Cut the polenta into 4 squares, then cut each square in half, from corner to corner, to make 2 triangles. Brush both sides of the cut polenta with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Brush a little olive oil on the hot grill, as well. Grill each side for 4-5 minutes, 4-6 inches above medium-hot coals, until grill marks show and the polenta begins to brown.
For Broiled Polenta:
Place the polenta that has been brushed with 2 tablespoons of olive oil on a baking sheet. Position the broiler rack 4-6 inches from the heat source. Broil for 7-10 minutes, until lightly browned.
For Sauteed Polenta:
Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan set on high heat until sizzling, about 2 minutes. Place the triangles of polenta in the pan and cook for about 5 minutes on both sides, until golden brown.
For Cheesy Polenta Triangles:
Cook 1 recipe of polenta as directed above, spread it in a greased 9- x 9-inch baking pan and set aside for at least 30 minutes until firm. Sprinkle the top with 4 tablespoons of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Place under the broiler for 7-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and lightly browned. Cut into 4 squares and then cut each square in half to make 2 triangles. Serve 2 triangles per person.
Go to full version of