Heat your favorite chili to a simmer, reduce heat and keep warm.
Bring water, stock or milk and salt to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan
Add polenta in a thin stream, whisk constantly. Whisk and cook over moderate heat, 2 minutes.
Reduce heat to low then, cover pan. Cook at a barely a simmer, stirring with a long-handled spoon for 1 minute after every 10 minutes of cooking, 45 minutes total. Remove from heat and whisk in butter until incorporated.
Let chili cool some before spooning into glass or crystal stemware.
Spoon polenta into the bottom of each glass or cup. Spoon a layer of chili on top and sprinkle with cheese repeat the layers to the top of the glass.
Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a cherry tomato.