1. Add 3 cups of water to a large saucier or saucepan and set over high heat. Reserve remaining cup for later use. Sprinkle in cornmeal while whisking with a fork or whisk (liquid does not have to be boiling).
2. Once the cornmeal starts to boil, lower the heat to a simmer, stirring frequently, until polenta thickens enough that it starts to “spit” and you see large bubbles start to pop at the surface. Lower heat immediately to prevent further spitting and continue to cook. Stir frequently with a spoon or silicone spatula, scraping the bottom to prevent scorching, until polenta becomes thick and pulls away from side of saucepan. Season with salt.
3. Stir in herbed compound butter, using either a spoon, a silicone spatula, or a whisk. Polenta will become glossy from the added fat, and should feel rich, creamy, and smooth. If polenta forms lumps, beat vigorously with a stiff whisk to remove. If polenta becomes too firm or begins to set, add a small amount of water, stock, or milk, and beat in with a whisk until liquid is fully incorporated and no lumps remain.
4. Top with parmesan and garnish with Gelson’s herbs.
5. Serve immediately.
6. For leftovers, cover, label, date, refrigerate up to 3 days. To reheat leftovers, ensure polenta is in a microwave safe container. Remove lid and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each 30 second interval, until polenta is hot. To reheat on the stove, place it in saucepan and add a few teaspoons of water. Heat it over medium-low heat and stir while reheating. Keep stirring until you have reached the desired consistency and add more liquid if needed.
Note (adapted from Serious Eats)
Any medium- or coarse-ground cornmeal will work here, whether the package says "polenta" or not; avoid instant polenta, which promises a quick cooking time but delivers subpar flavor and texture. Cooking it in milk will produce a rich and creamy polenta that's delicious and indulgent, but also heavy; stock (vegetable or chicken) will infuse the polenta with more flavor, but that flavor can also cover up the taste of the cornmeal. Water produces the lightest polenta, with a mild corn flavor that pairs well with everything and won't leave you feeling weighed down after eating it.