Lidia’s Basic Polenta
5 cups water (or half water and half milk, for a richer taste)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 fresh bay leaf
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1-1/2 cups coarse yellow cornmeal
In a large saucepan, combine the water (or water and milk), olive oil, bay leaf, and salt, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Very slowly, sift the cornmeal by handfuls into the pot, through the fingers of one hand, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or whish to remove any lumps.
Once all of the cornmeal is added, adjust the heat so just a few lazy bubbles pop to the surface. Continue to cook and stir until the polenta is smooth and thick and pulls away from the sides of the pan as it is stirred, about 30 to 35 minutes.
Discard the bay leaf and proceed to the first step in the Polenta Torta recipe above.