Shrimp with Green Onion Polenta

Shrimp and Polenta
Is it polenta or grits? If you are in southern Europe, you’ll call it polenta. If you are in the southern U.S., it’s grits. They both use cornmeal and are cooked in the same fashion.

This recipe can very easily be called Shrimp and Grits, a very popular dish from the American south. My recipe calls for the cured Italian ham, Prosciutto, but cured country ham, like those found in the southern states could also be used with identical results. Whether you call it Shrimp and Polenta or Shrimp and Grits the dish is a winner. Serve with a simple green salad and a crisp white wine for a dish that’s perfect for special occasion entertaining.

The polenta recipe below makes a soft, creamy polenta, but if your brand of polenta/cornmeal has a recipe on the package for “soft” polenta, use that method, as the water to cornmeal ratio can vary slightly, depending on the brand. There are also quick cooking “instant” polentas available. Simply follow the package instructions and finish the recipe with the green onions mentioned below.

Shrimp with Green Onion Polenta

1 ½ pounds raw medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Juice of 1 lemon
½ -1 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 ½ tablespoons butter
¼ cup prosciutto, small dice
1 large shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp cornstarch
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
¼ cup white wine or sherry
¼ c finely minced Italian parsley

For the polenta:
5 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 cup polenta (or stone ground grits or cornmeal)
1 cup thinly sliced scallions (green onions)

Combine the shrimp with the lemon juice and a couple of generous splashes of hot pepper sauce. Set aside while making the polenta.

For the polenta: In a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, bring 5 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Slowly whisk the cornmeal in a little at a time. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook over low heat for 35 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally at first and more frequently toward the end (or follow package instructions if you are using an instant polenta). Remove from heat and stir in the green onions. Cover until ready to serve.

For the Sauce: While the grits are simmering, add the butter to a sauté pan over medium heat and just lightly brown the prosciutto. Stir in the shallots and garlic and briefly sauté for 1 minute. longer. Stir the cornstarch into the stock and wine, add to the ham mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes longer, or until slightly thickened. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if needed. If sauce is too thick, add a small amount of additional stock, water or wine. Continuing over medium heat, add the shrimp. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are opaque and cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat stir the parsley in. Serve immediately, mounding the grits in large shallow bowls or on plates. Spoon the shrimp and sauce over the polenta.

Serves 4-6
Shrimp and Green Onion Polenta

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