Monday, January 12, 2015

Creole-Spiced Shrimp and Polenta

Some dishes are made to bring pure, unadulterated joy.  For me, that usually entails bold, unforgettable flavors and some measure of comfort-food-esque, homey goodness.  This past weekend, that joy was realized in my kitchen, as it has been so many times before, as I brought together two of my favorite things: bold, creole flavored shrimp and creamy polenta (a slight twist on the beloved shrimp and grits).  

So first about the shrimp (they deserve their own homage).  As the undisputed star of the dish, along with its natural, rich, dark, spice and flavor laden juices, it couldn't be easier to prepare.  A simple assembly and toss of the majority of the ingredients, followed by an oven-bake of 30 minutes, yields perfectly cooked, scrumptious, bread-sopping (with or without the polenta) noshing--and makes this dish perfect for when you're looking to get dinner on the table in under an hour (read: busy weeknights or lazy weekends) or equally when looking to serve up a bit of wow-appeal to guests and fellow diners.  Easy, quick, and oh so good.  Got it?

When I first started making this dish, it was just me, those irresistible shrimp, crusty bread for sopping up those must-have juices that form while they're baking in the oven and (possibly) a mixed greens salad here and there.  Then one day not so long ago, it dawned on me that this would make the perfect marriage with a base of creamy, luscious polenta, similar to our Southern classic of shrimp and grits.  And wah-la, the rest was history. 

So as you continue to brave the cold, wintery days ahead, be sure to infuse your eats with a bit of uncontainable goodness and joy with this simple, yet satisfying, recipe.

Happy Eating!

Creole-Spiced Shrimp and Polenta
(Cook's Note: For the shrimp, you can use as much (or as little) of the spicier ingredients as you like to suit your palate.) 
A bit of pre-dinner mise en place

Creole-Spiced Shrimp
Instant Polenta
Water (milk or broth, optional)

When shrimp has about 10 minutes or so left in the oven, bring a large pot of water to a boil. (Cook's Note: Use a ration of 3-parts liquid to 1-part polenta).
Once water has reached a boil, add in salt to flavor and then stir in polenta and stir continually until done (also following package instructions, as needed).  

Remove shrimp pouch(es) from oven.  Serve over polenta in individual servings or in a large family style serving platter.  Enjoy!

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