FoodNetwork.com and NYTimes.com both provide basic recipes for polenta. Both of these basic recipes for polenta require only a few ingredients: water, cornmeal, butter and salt.
The recipe from FoodNetwork.com requires 6 cups of water, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 3/4 cups of yellow cornmeal and 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Start the polenta by boiling the water and then add the salt. After the water boils, slowly add the cornmeal using a whisk. Turn the heat to low and stir the ingredients frequently. After the ingredients thicken, add the butter and stir in until it melts.
The recipe on NYTimes.com includes Parmesan cheese. Boil 4 to 5 cups of water, depending on the desired texture of the polenta. After the water boils, add 1 teaspoon of salt. Turn down the heat to a low setting and slowly add 1 cup of cornmeal. Cook the mixture for about 45 minutes and stir it occasionally. After cooking, sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top, if desired.To make the polenta firmer, butter a shallow dish or baking sheet. Pour the polenta in the dish and smooth the mixture with a spatula. Allow the polenta to solidify at room temperature until it is cooled.