By now I am sure you are aware that my garden often dictates what I have for dinner. Today’s menu of red pepper shrimp and polenta is no different. No, I do not grow shrimp or polenta but, I do grow asparagus and oregano and love to toss bright green ingredients over a red dish which brought this recipe to mind.
I pan-seared shrimp in a spicy red compound butter and added some red pepper polenta. Then I tossed asparagus and fresh oregano over the top to bring this dish alive with color and flavor. It looks and sounds complicated, but it is an easy dish that can be ready to serve in 35 minutes. Yet, it is elegant enough to serve to last minute dinner guests as I did tonight.
For this dish I like to use serrano peppers. Serrano’s are a “milder” hot pepper with a heat index between 10,000 – 25,000. When cooking with hot peppers, I prefer the heat to tickle the tongue and not overtake the dish. So, I almost always discard the seeds. However, if you what more heat, by all means, keep the seeds or kick it up even more by using cayenne peppers instead. More on pepper heat indexes.
In a food processor bowl, add 1 stick of cubed cold butter, 3 – 4 cloves garlic, 2 deseeded serrano peppers, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, 1½ teaspoons ancho chile powder, and the zest from 1 lime. Pulse into a paste. Set aside until ready to use.
Red Pepper Polenta:
Clean out the food processor bowl and place a 12-ounce jar of drained roasted red peppers in the bowl and pulse until smooth.
Bring 6 cups water and the puree to a boil in a large saucepan. When it has reached a rolling boil; slowly whisk in 2 cups of a quality stone-ground cornmeal. I like Bob’s Red Mill. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring continuously for 2 – 3 minutes until well blended and lump free. Let cook for 35 minutes stirring often. When the polenta is pulling away from the pan turn off heat and add 1 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese and 2 tablespoons of the butter compound. Cover to keep warm.
In a medium saucepan, bring 6 cups of salted water to a boil. Add 1 bunch of fresh asparagus and cook for 3 – 4 minutes or until the asparagus is tender. Drain and immediately dunk the asparagus into a bowl of ice water. This stops the cooking process and keeps the asparagus a nice bright green.
Red Pepper Shrimp:
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; add 3 – 4 tablespoons of the butter compound and swirl until melted. Add 1 pound of large or jumbo shrimp to pan, leaving some space between each. Don’t overcrowd, work in batches if needed. Cook shrimp just until it becomes pink around the edges and it no longer sticks to the bottom of the pan. Flip and continue cooking just until it’s cooked through, about 3 – 4 minutes. Once the shrimp are cooked, turn off the heat and add 2 tablespoons of the butter compound. Toss and let melt.
Spoon some of the red pepper polenta onto side of plate. Add some shrimp and allow extra butter to pool around the plate. Toss on some of the asparagus and sprinkle with freshly chopped oregano. Get ready to wow everyone with the hours you sacrificed on this culinary delight. 😉
- 1 pound large shrimp
- 1 bunch of fresh asparagus
- 1 stick cold butter, cubed
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 serrano peppers
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1½ teaspoons ancho chile powder
- Zest from 1 lime
- 1 jar (12 ounces) roasted red peppers
- 2 cups stone-ground cornmeal
- 1 cup asiago, freshly grated
Place the butter, garlic, serrano peppers, smoked paprika, ancho chile powder and lime zest in a food processor bowl. Pulse into a paste. Set aside until ready to use.
Next, clean out the food processor bowl and place the roasted red peppers in a food processor and puree until smooth.
In a medium saucepan bring 8 cups water and the puree to a boil. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring continuously for 2 – 3 minutes. Let cook for 35 minutes stirring often. When the polenta is pulling away from the pan add the asiago cheese and 2 tablespoons of the butter compound.
Meanwhile, snip any tough ends from asparagus. Bring a pot of salted water to a roiling boil and add the asparagus. Boil for 3 – 4 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender. Drain in a colander and place asparagus in a bowl of ice water.
Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat; add 3 – 4 tablespoons of the butter compound and swirl until melted. Add the shrimp and brown on both sides, about 3 – 4 minutes. Once the shrimp are cooked, turn off the heat and add 2 tablespoons of the butter compound. Toss and let melt.