Louise-Marie, or la Louise as my grand-father called her, was a great cook. She was a Savoyarde, from the region across the Alps from Italy and she was bilingual, French and Patois, the Alpine dialect spoken on both sides of the border. Alpine French and Italian folks also shared many recipes with cheese as a key ingredient. Polenta is the best souvenir of my stays at her place. I now own the dish in which she cooked it. It is a very heavy cast-iron pot, sort of an ancestor to the Le Creuset brand.
I suggest that you use a non-stick pot as I do now. Yes, a crime, but it will reduce the stirring required and give you the time to make the rest of dinner at the same time you cook the polenta. So, boil 5 cups of salted water for each cup of corn semolina with a sprinkle of baking soda to prevent lumps. Add the semolina slowly while stirring. Reduce heat to minimum and cover. Stir again every 5 minutes. After 10 minutes, when the water seems to be all gone, add 2 tbsp olive oil or butter. Cook 20 to 25 minutes max. Add a cup of grated Parmesan or Gruyère, depending on whether you want the Italian or French bias. Ah, and butter, as much as you think is not too much! Do not cook in advance as the cream will turn into a solid as it cools down. If you follow this carefully, I guarantee a creamy result without any lumps.
Notes: The coarser the better for the semolina. I think that bright orange is better than the pale yellow if you can find it. One cup is enough for four servings. Chicken broth mixed with water has a nice flavor, a clove garlic is pretty good too, crushed at the end.
Next day: Take the leftover out of the fridge, cut it in squares and fry it in olive oil. Delicious too!
Best served with rabbit in blood/red wine sauce (civet de lapin).
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