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.

Yield: serves 6


  • 1 tbsp. coarse salt
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 7 cups cold water
  • 1 23 cups coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. 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.