Ingredients for 4 servings:
1. 6 cups water
2. 1 tablespoon kosher salt
3. 1 cup polenta (coarse- or medium-ground)
4. 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (more to taste, if desired)
5. 3 tablespoons butter
6. 2 ounces parmigiano-reggiano cheese, grated
1. Bring 3 cups water to a full boil in a heavy pot. Simmer the remaining water close by.
2. Add the salt and rapidly stir the water with a whisk, creating a vortex. Continuing to stir constantly, add the polenta in a thin stream into the vortex.
3. Continue to stir after all the polenta has been added, then lower the heat to a simmer rather than a boil.
4. As the polenta thickens, replace the whisk with a long-handled wooden spoon.
5. Add the 1 cup of remaining water and continue to stir. Break up any lumps with the back of the spoon pressed against the pot.
6. Continue stirring the polenta, reaching to the bottom of the pot as necessary, until it gets thick and pulls away from the sides of the pot.
7. Taste the polenta to test tenderness; add additional water if necessary. The polenta can take 15 to 60 minutes to cook properly, depending on its type.
8. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, stir in the pepper and butter, then add the cheese.
9. Remove from heat.
10. If serving immediately, pour onto a large platter or into a bowl or individual dishes.