Heat the water and salt in a stockpot. When the water reaches the boiling point, begin adding the corn meal. Pour it in a very slow steam, simultaneously stirring with a wooden spoon or a simple non rotary rolling pin. (It is important to pour slowly and steadily and keep stirring because, otherwise, the polenta can easily become lumpy).
Stir slowly, without stopping, for about 35 minutes.
If some lumps form, push them against the side of the pot to dissolve them.
45-50 minutes. Prepare a smooth wooden surface (preferably a round board about 18 inches in diameter, or substitute pasta board) by wetting it with cold water.
When the polenta has cooked for about 35 minutes, leave it on the flame for about 3 minutes more without stirring.
Shake the pot a little; in this way, some steam will form under the polenta and it will completely detach from the bottom of the pot.
After the 3 minutes are up, quickly reverse the pot of polenta onto the wooden surface.
Polenta is best cut with a string.
Fit a string under the polenta layer and draw it through to the top surface.
Continue slicing the polenta this way, then place the slices on individual dishes.
Cover with whatever sauce you have prepared and serve hot.
Besciamella for Polenta
In heavy saucepan melt butter over moderate heat, stir in flour.
Remove pan from heat, pour in milk and cream beating with wire whisk until flour is dissolved.
Return pan to high heat and cook, stirring constantly with whisk, until it comes to a boil and is smooth and thick.
Reduce heat and simmer for two-three minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Add 1/2 cup cheese and set pan aide.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in skillet and cook sliced mushrooms, stirring for 3-4 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Cut polenta in 1/2 crosswise, lay 1 half on a buttered shallow 8 x 8 baking dish.
Spread 1/2 mushrooms over polenta and spoon 1/2 besciamella sauce over it.
Place second 1/2 on top of the sauce and spread with the rest of the besciamella sauce and mushrooms.
Sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese.
Bake on middle shelf of oven for 25-30 minutes until cheese and sauce are brown and bubbling.
Gently cut into squares - serve at once.
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