In a large pot boil 6 cups of water and a tsp or so of salt. Stir in 2 cups of polenta and a few T of tuscan olive oil and reduce to simmer stirring frequently to prevent burning for about 20-30 minutes until it is thick and not gritty. During that time, heat butter olive oil in a sauté pan and cook fennel, apples and thyme until tender. Optional: add diced ham or bacon. Mix apple and fennel mixture into the cooked polenta along with asiago cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir well. Grease a medium bowl with olive oil and place some fresh herbs on the bottom. Spoon polenta into the bowl and let sit for about 10 minutes. Turn over onto platter (polenta should keep shape of the bowl). Serve hot.