Polenta makes a great vehicle for saucy dishes like this Creole Shrimp. The yellow cornmeal porridge is a lateral substitute for grits. Both are delicious options, but the polenta carries a corn flavor that is more compatible with the sofrito and tomato cooking base.
This sauce will make a delicious accompaniment to seared shrimp, sauteed diced chicken breast, or crispy roasted tofu. Here we are serving it with seared shrimp with a cajun seasoning blend. The blend that you choose can be as hot or as mild as you like it. A half teaspoon will help underscore miles of flavor coming from the sofrito and the manzanilla olives.
The beauty of this meal is that you can make more of the sauce than you need and freeze the leftovers into pre portioned batches. Keeping a few servings of the creole sauce in your freezer will make perfect weekday dinners; simply double the recipe to achieve this. Similarly, leftover polenta can magically turn into crispy polenta cakes because it naturally forms into the shape of the container it’s transferred to. In which case, I’d opt for a cylindrical container so it’s easy to slice the polenta into medallions.
Simply shallow-fry the leftover polenta cakes in a bit of oil until crisp or choose the lazier approach of brushing the medallions with oil and roasting them in a hot oven until golden.
When preparing polenta for a particular meal, always consider the following days because it’s ideally suited for make-ahead kitchen snacks. Dinners like this create a sense of ease for busy lives.
Creole Shrimp with Polenta
Ingredients for the creole shrimp:
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
20 pieces of shrimp, deshelled and deveined
½ tsp Cajun seasoning blend
½ yellow onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, pounded in a mortar and pestle
½ cup manzanilla olives, halved
⅓ cup sofrito, store-bought
1 cup tomato sauce
2 cups chicken stock, as needed
Salt and pepper, to taste
Microgreens, as garnish
Instructions for the Creole Shrimp:
In a nonstick skillet, heat up the olive oil on medium high heat. Sear the seasoned shrimp for 45 seconds to 1 minute each side. Do not fully cook the shrimp. Remove the shrimp and set aside.
Add the onions, garlic, and olives to the skillet. Sauté for 2 minutes or until aromatic.
Add the sofrito and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and thoroughly combine all of the ingredients. Sauté until the tomato sauce starts to bubble.
Add the chicken stock and raise the heat to high. Stir gently to combine thoroughly. Allow the sauce to reduce and become slightly thickened—approximately 5 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary.
Transfer the shrimp and any of the juices back into the sauce. Reduce heat to medium low and allow the shrimp to fully cook. Turn off heat. Serve immediately.
Ingredients for the polenta:
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup yellow corn polenta
1 tbsp unsalted butter
Instructions for the polenta:
Heat 3 cups of chicken stock.
Slowly stir in the yellow corn polenta on medium heat and whisk gently.
Continue to whisk until the polenta creates bubbles and begins to thicken. Remove from heat, stir in butter, and let sit covered until ready to serve.
Add two large spoonfuls of polenta to a serving plate, creating an indent in the center. Using tongs, add 5 pieces of shrimp to the indent. Top the shrimp with the Creole sauce. Garnish with microgreens. Enjoy!