Polenta is a coarsely ground corn meal prepared as either a mush, or allowed to set up and then grilled or baked and shaped. I've had polenta "fries" which were thick strips of toasted polenta. I like those.
That's all fine, but this is polenta for beginners.
You want dry polenta, not the prepared mush stuffed in a tube. There are different brands, but know it's not the same as corn meal. Corn meal is too fine. I used Bob's Red Mill Polenta this time. My last bag was Golden Pheasant Polenta.
I can usually find polenta on the baking aisle near flour or specialty grains in the grocery store. You can also find it in fun stores like Cost Plus World Market. You may even find it in bulk bins at places like Whole Food or Winco or Raley's.
If you aren't sure what you have is the right stuff, read the ingredients. Polenta should be just ground corn, maybe some added vitamins in there too. If gluten content is a concern for you, Bob's Red Mill Polenta is gluten free.
1 cup dry polenta
1 teaspoon salt
1 quart water (you may need 1/2 cup extra for you at really high altitudes)
1. Bring water to a boil with the salt. Gradually whisk in the polenta. (Yeah, I used a wooden spoon. I like wooden spoons for cooking grains like polenta, oatmeal, cream of wheat, and the like.)
hearty red sauce.