During the hot summer months I don't often make a dish that requires a long, slow simmer on the stove. Not only does a long, slow simmer heat up the kitchen, but those heavier meals are often too heavy for hot weather (even when the house is air conditioned). Occasionally, however, a simple meal like polenta and sauce is a nice dish to enjoy on a rainy summer day -- one like this recipe for Lidia's Polenta.
Polenta is a simple dish to prepare, and paired with a really good jarred pasta sauce (or some homemade sauce you stashed in the freezer) and some sauteed Italian sausages, a tasty treat even for a summer evening.
On the evening we ate this meal, I browned some fresh Italian sausages in some olive oil in a large skillet, opened a jar of Tyler Florence's Vodka sauce, poured it over the sausages and simmered them for a half hour or so. Then I sliced the sausages and served them, with the sauce, over a spoonful of this wonderful polenta, with Parmesan cheese. Simple and delicious (and inexpensive).
I omit the bay leaves when I make it, but other than that, I make it as written.
Lidia's Basic Polenta
2 c. milk
2 c. water
1 T. unsalted butter
1 bay leaf (optional)
2 T. coarse salt (I start with less until I taste it)
1 1/2 c. coarse yellow cornmeal (or polenta if you can find it labeled as such)
In medium saucepan, combine milk, water, butter, bay leaf and salt. Heat to simmer over medium flame. Slowly sift cornmeal into pan through fingers of one hand, stirring constantly until polenta is smooth and thick and pulls away from sides of pan when stirred, about 20 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
Source: Lidia Bastianich