I saw this method of cooking soft polenta with out all the stirring or the long cooking time on America's Test Kitchen, tried it and it worked! The reason it cooks so easily is all very scientific but basically the baking soda does the trick, I am sooo very happy right now : ) This recipe makes a nice size pot of polenta for about 8 people.
7 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Pinch (less then 1/8 teaspoon) baking soda
2 Tablespoons butter
1-2 cups Parmesan grated
I like to use heavy bottomed pot with lid like a Dutch Oven for this. Boil water, add salt and baking powder and then immediately add corn meal while whisking rigorously (or else it will clump) boil for 1 minute stirring all the time.
Turn heat to low (your lowest setting), cover, and cook for 5 minutes.
Stir once more, cover, and cook for 25 minutes longer still on lowest setting.
Remove cover, add butter & Parmesan, and whisk smooth then cover and let sit for 2-3 more minutes...that's it and all I did was stir it 3 times.
Who knew that old fashioned Italian cooking mixed with a little American know would make such a perfectly easy pot of polenta.