Basic Polenta

1 cup yellow polenta
1 tablespoon salt
5 cups cold water

Put polenta in heavy 4-quart pot. Add salt. Stirring constantly with wire whisk, add 5 cups cold water to pot. Place pot over medium heat. Continue to stir with whisk until polenta begins to thicken, about 10 minutes. Switch to a wooden spoon and continue to cook, stirring almost constantly, about 30 minutes more. Polenta is done with thick but still pourable.

If serving loose, stir in a lump of butter and sprinkle with grated cheese. Or pour onto a large platter and make an indentation in the center with a large metal spoon dipped in hot water and place a vegetable stew in the hollow.

If you intend to spread the polenta out to cool, lightly oil two pastry boards, baking sheets, or other scratchproof surface. Pour polenta from pan onto the boards. Using a large knife or rubber spatula dipped in water, spread it out to about ? inch thick. Allow to cool and harden, about 20 minutes, before cutting.
from Fagioli and Vegetarian Table: Italian.