This dish scores big points for flavor, ease and show stopping good looks. Sweet shrimp play alongside the smoky andouille and umami-rich mushrooms. Make the polenta the day before and give them a quick dredge and sear to serve as the base for the rich topping. Thanks to In Register for featuring this dish in their May 2017 issue!
Ingredients for the Polenta:
1 cup polenta
1 cup grated gruyere cheese
1-2 Tbl Butter, cut into small pieces
All-purpose flour for dredging
Directions for the Polenta:
Bring 4 cups unsalted stock or water to a boil. Add salt and carefully taste the water. The water should taste like the ocean. Slowly pour the polenta into the water. Whisk vigorously so that there are no lumps. Allow to come to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook until thickened—about five minutes. Whisk in the gruyere cheese. Add bits of its of butter to get things moving, if necessary, to help fully incorporate the cheese.
Spray a 9X9 pan with nonstick spray, and pour in the polenta. Smooth with a spatula. Cover and refrigerate until completely cooled. This can be done the day prior.
Ingredients for the Shrimp Topping:
1 lb wild mushrooms
1 cup andouille cut into small cubes
1 lb peeled & deveined shrimp
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp cornstarch
½ tsp Smoked Hot Paprika
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
½-1 cup heavy cream
¼-1/2 cup mushroom stock
Fresh parsley and chives, finely chopped
First, create the mushroom stock: Slice and set aside the mushrooms, reserving the stems. The stems will be used to make a flavorful stock. Place the stems in a stockpot with 5 cups water. Add in ½ whole onion,1/2 stalk celery and 6 lightly crushed garlic cloves. Bring up to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Cut the cooled polenta into round, square or even triangular “cakes.” Dredge in all-purpose flour. Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle in the Smoked Extra Virgin Olive Oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Sear the polenta cakes on both sides until golden brown adding Smoked Extra Virgin Olive Oil as needed. Move to rimmed baking sheet and place in oven set at a very low temp to keep warm.
Wipe out the pan and saute the andouille until brown and crispy. Move to a plate.
In a bowl, combine the shrimp with the baking soda, cornstarch and Smoked Hot Paprika. In the same pan, add a little more Smoked Olive Oil and saute the shrimp until firm, opaque pink and cooked through—about five minutes. Move to a plate. Add the mushrooms and sauté until any liquid released from the mushrooms evaporates. Add in the shallots and garlic. Saute for about 6 minutes or until the mushrooms are golden brown. During this process, be sure to incorporate any browned bits from the pan—this holds tons of flavor!
Return the andouille and shrimp to the pan. Add about ¼ cup mushroom stock. Bring up to a simmer and add ½ cup heavy cream. Simmer and allow to thicken a bit. Add more cream or stock to adjust the consistency. Taste and season with salt and cayenne. Serve over warm polenta cakes. Garnish with fresh parsley and chives.