Shrimp and Grits Italian Style

I don’t consider myself a particularly New Orleans-ey person. But this recipe may have converted me. Though, I can’t get completely away from my preferences (hence the “Italian Style” in the title).

I’d never really eaten polenta before, despite having heard so much about it. And I don’t really know what I was expecting, but it was so different from what I expected, in a good way. It doesn’t have a very strong flavor so I must warn you, it has the potential to be bland if it’s under seasoned, but it also has the potential of a blank canvas. And I like my canvases topped with creole shrimp 🙂

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shrimp and grits italian style

Ingredients

1 cup stone ground polenta

4 cups chicken stock (plus 1/2 cup)

2 tablespoons butter (plus 4 tablespoons cold; cubed)

3 pounds shrimp ( peeled; deveined; but leave the tails on if you’re wild)

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 yellow onion, diced

3 red bell peppers, cut in 1/4-inch dice

2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

1/4 cup cream

1 teaspoon parsley (optional)

lemon

salt

pepper
 

Spice Rub

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon sea salt

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon chipotle powder

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme

Directions

Season the shrimp with the two tablespoons of  the spice rub and lots of freshly cracked black pepper, rubbing the spice mixture into the shrimp.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and shrimp and sauté, tossing as they cook, for 1-2 minutes, or until just opaque, and then remove from pan. Be careful not to overcook.

Add another tablespoon of oil. Add onions, bell peppers, and celery. Cooking until fragrant. Add the Worcestershire, remaining chicken stock, cream and cubed butter. Stir well to combine and bring to a boil. Simmer the sauce until it darkens, about 20 to 30 minutes.

While waiting for the sauce to darken, boil the chicken stock and a teaspoon of the spice rub. Throw in the polenta and lower the heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally for 15-25 minutes, depending on desired thickness. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in a few tablespoons of butter to finish.

Add the Shrimp to the darkened sauce and toss to coat. Scoop polenta into a bowl, top with the shrimp. Squeeze fresh lemon over the shrimp, sprinkle with parsley and parmesan cheese, if desired and serve immediately.

Helpful Tips:
1. Use equal parts of each spice for the mix!
2. The pan should be very hot to sear the shrimp!

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