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|2 cups||water, plus more as needed|
|1 pinch||cayenne pepper, (optional)|
|1 cup||polenta, (yellow corn grits)|
|¼ cup||grated Parmesan cheese|
Optional fresh herbs, such as thyme or sage
In a saucepan, combine milk, water, bay leaf, & cayenne. Bring to a boil over low heat and season generously with salt. Taste for salt as you go!
Once water is boiling and the seasoning is correct, gradually sprinkle in polenta, whisking constantly. Then continue to cook, stirring frequently, until polenta becomes thick. Taste to see if it?s grainy; add more water if so, and continue cooking and adding water to adjust thickness until it feels smooth on the tongue, about 35 min. Remove herb sprigs; add Parmesan cheese and optional minced herbs.
Line a small sheet tray with parchment (or plastic) and pour polenta onto it. Work quickly to spread to desired thickness and smooth surface. Cover top with a little olive oil to help you smooth it out. (Placing plastic wrap onto surface may also help to smooth it.) Chill until needed.
Before serving, cut the polenta into shapes, and either brush with oil & bake, or fry in hot oil in a non-stick pan to brown. Then finish with toppings, and reheat in oven if needed. Place on serving platter and garnish with herbs and/or parmesan cheese.
--May be made a day or two in advance.
--Cakes tend to stick to pan when frying, so make sure oil is quite hot; use a good cast iron or a non-stick pan.
--Can also be grilled rather than baked or fried, but oil grill well as it does tend to stick.