Sunday, February 8, 2009

Shrimp and Spniach over Polenta

A few weeks ago, I bought polenta and I've had polenta on the brain since then. Last night, the recipe that I'd run through my head over the past few weeks came into being. Yes, my recipes are like babies to me. I have a gestational period and when they're ready, I birth them. Ok, even I had to laugh at that statement. It's a little dramatic, but it's true.

Enough of recipes as babies. Let's get down to the recipe itself. The shrimp, which I bought at the Asian grocery store, were jumbo tiger shrimp frozen and imported from Vietnam. They were succulent, sweet, and so full of flavor. I'll probably be thrown out of Norway for saying this, but these Vietnamese shrimp can kick some Norwegian shrimp ass. The shrimp were the all-stars that took this dish from good to GRRRR-EAT! Yeah, I'm bringing back a little of the Tony the Tiger. Tony the TIGER SHRIMP! Damn, I'm good.
Shrimp and Spinach over Polenta
(Serves 2)
3/4 lb large shrimp, de-shelled and de-veined
2 cups canned diced tomatoes
1 clove garlic, smashed but still in one piece
5 shallots, sliced
2 bunches of spinach, about 6 cups washed and trimmed
3 tbs olive oil
1 cup polenta
4 1/2 cups of water
1/2 cup cream
1 tbs butter
1/2 tsp of salt
1 tbs of finely chopped parsley
Large pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Place the oil in the saute pan and heat the pan to medium-high. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the crushed pepper flakes. To the oil and flakes, saute the shallots and the garlic, stirring frequently. Let the shallot and the garlic saute until the shallots are soft. Remove the garlic (a little trick I learned from The Italian Rabblerowser) and add the tomatoes to the sauce. Let the sauce saute and reduce for about 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. To the sauce add the spinach and cook until they are wilted. Add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp have turned pink. Stir in the parsley and check for seasoning. Remove the sauce from the stove.

While the tomatoes are cooking down, bring the 4 cups of water and 1/2 tsp of salt to a boil. Once the water is at a boil, stream handfuls of the polenta into the hot water, stirring vigorously. Continue adding the polenta flour to the boiling mixture stirring constantly. You need to stir it constantly to remove the lumps. The polenta will thicken very quickly and cooks pretty fast. When the polenta is thick like so, add cream and the butter, stirring to incorporate into the polenta. The polenta will still be thick but also creamy.

Spoon the polenta into a bowl and spoon the shrimp and sauce over the polenta. It is warm and so hearty. I mean really - it's filling. I couldn't finish my deceptively small portion even thought I definitely wanted to.
1. You will have leftover polenta. It's great the next day, reheated with a little milk and with some grated parmesan cheese on top. Ohhhh.....that's good.
2. My mom always puts shrimp on ice right before she cooks it. The trick for crunchy, firm shrimp is to get it really cold right before you cook it.
3. The shrimp I used were fairly large. You can tell the size of the shrimp by the number notated on the package. The shrimp I used were sized 16/20, meaning there are 16-20 shrimp per pound. The smaller the number on the package, the bigger the shrimp.
4. I don't have anymore notes.

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