To accompany her Adriatic Eel Stew, Bastianich serves polenta either right from the pot, scooped out in hot, soft mounds onto the plate, or poured onto a wooden paddle, cooled, and cut into sections with taut string.
- 1 tbsp. coarse salt
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 7 cups cold water
- 1 2⁄3 cups coarse yellow cornmeal
- 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put coarse salt and bay leaves into cold water in a heavy medium pot. Stir in coarse yellow cornmeal. (Adding cornmeal to cold water helps keep polenta free of lumps.) Bring to a boil over high heat, add extra-virgin olive oil, then reduce heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until polenta thickens and pulls away from the bottom and sides of the pot, 30-40 minutes. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove and discard bay leaves.