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Blackened Shrimp and Fried Polenta


For the polenta

½ teaspoon salt

½ beef bouillon cube

1 cup polenta

1 stick of butter plus two tablespoons (10 tablespoons)

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

For the shrimp

1½ pounds shrimp

1 teaspoon Blackening Spice (recipe follows)

¼ cup olive oil, divided

1 cup diced yellow onion

½ cup chopped green bell pepper

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 quart shrimp stock (may substitute with seafood stock)

¼ cup half-and-half

2 tablespoon finely chopped green onion

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Blackening Seasoning

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon poultry seasoning


Make the polenta

  1. To make the polenta, grease a 7-x-11-inch baking dish with olive oil and set aside. Place the 1 quart water in a large pot and bring it to a boil. Add the salt and whisk in the bouillon cube until it dissolves. Whisk in the polenta and cook, stirring frequently, until the water is almost absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir in the butter and cheese and cook for 5 minutes, or until thickened. Pour the polenta into the greased baking dish and refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Using a rubber spatula, free the edges of the polenta from the dish. Place a cutting board on top of the dish and invert to remove it from the pan. Slice the polenta into strips about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick, and then again down the center. Place a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, and rub a cold stick of butter across it to grease it. Working in batches, place the polenta in the skillet and fry until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove and place on a baking sheet in the oven while cooking the remaining batches.
  3. Make the shrimp: To make the shrimp, season the shrimp with the Blackening Spice and set aside. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, salt, pepper, cayenne, and dried thyme. Cook for 3 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the shrimp stock and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the half-and-half, green onion, and parsley and simmer on low for 5 minutes. While that’s simmering, add the remaining olive oil to a clean pan over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until they turn opaque.
  4. Assembly: Serve by placing the shrimp over the fried polenta and then pouring the sauce over both. High five yourself.
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