13 February, 2013

Red Chili Honey Butter Shrimp on Crispy Polenta Cakes

Red. Chili. Honey. Butter. Shrimp. 


This recipe was created very much by ingredients I happened to have on hand, which is the case of most of my recipes.  
The Boyfriend rated this meal 'pretty good,' which may not sound like a compliment but is actually the highest ranking on his scale, depending on the tone of his voice and facial expressions when he says it.  

The base of the dish is a simple roasted red pepper puree, topped with a spinach and basil salad. Crispy polenta cakes are placed on top, still hot, warming the spinach salad below, and it's all topped off with shrimp drizzled with the red chili honey butter sauce.  
I tried to get a bit of each flavor in every bite.  It's one of those dishes where you're mixing a bite of polenta in the red pepper puree, grabbing a piece of spinach soaked in the slightly spicy butter sauce.  And the shrimp.  Don't forget the shrimp!

This recipe was easy to make, and pretty fast (if you don't count the refrigeration time needed for the polenta- if you're looking to make this tonight, read through whole recipe!)
It's something I sort of whipped together  and when finished and I saw it on a plate, I thought to myself that this dish is worthy of a special occasion dinner. I thought I'd hurry up and share it with you, with Valentine's Day being tomorrow!  If you don't have a dinner planned yet, and you'll be working and want something you don't have to slave over but is still impressive.. here you go.  This is it. 

The list of ingredients seems long, but it's really just redundant since I've split up the four components of the dish.  You'll probably find most of these ingredients in your house already (as I did!).  

Red Chili Honey Butter Shrimp on 
Crispy Polenta Cakes

For the Shrimp:
24 shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp honey
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsl chopped parsley
1/2 cup white wine
3 tbls unsalted butter
salt and pepper

For the Spinach Salad:
Fresh spinach, tough stems removed
Fresh basil, leaves only
1 piece of cooked thick sliced bacon, diced (or use pancetta or prosciutto)
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar

For Basic Polenta:
2 cups water
3/4 cup polenta (yellow cornmeal) **Make sure it's gluten free if needed
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter

For the Roasted Red Pepper Puree:
1 Red pepper
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper


Spinach Salad:
Rough chop the spinach and basil together.  Toss together and add bacon.  In a separate bowl, combine olive oil and red wine vinegar.  Pour over salad and toss when ready to serve. 

Roasted Red Pepper Puree:
Broil the red pepper until all sides are black and charred.  Let cool until easy to handle, and peel the black skin off the pepper.  Remove the seeds and stem, and place pepper in a blender or food processor.  Puree.  Gradually drizzle a but of olive oil in and puree again.  Continue until puree reaches your desired consistency. I usually keep mine pretty thick.  Salt and pepper to taste. 

In a saucepot, heat water until boiling.  Add the salt, and gradually the polenta. Reduce heat to low, whisking often, and cook until polenta is tender (about 15 minutes). Turn off heat, add butter, and stir until melted.  

Polenta is ready to eat!  To continue on for crispy polenta, spread the polenta flat in a small pan or tray.  For this amount of polenta, I spread mine into a loaf pan (about 4 x 12).  Refrigerate until firm.  Once firm, remove from fridge and cut out desired sized circles with a cookie cutter.

Heat oil in a saute pan, and sauce the polenta cakes until golden crispy on all sides. 

Toss the shrimp in a bit of salt and pepper.  Heat a few drizzles of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add the shrimp.  Saute for a minute and add 1 tbsp of the butter.  Saute for a few minutes longer until shrimp is golden on both sides.  Reduce heat to medium and add the red pepper flakes, parsley, and garlic. Stir to coat. Pour in the wine and allow to reduce by half.  Remove the shrimp to serving platter, leaving the sauce in pan. Add the remaining 2 tbsp butter to the pan and the honey.  Stir until butter is melted.  Pour sauce over shrimp, allowing it to drizzle a bit on the polenta and spinach. 

To Assemble:
Spread roasted red pepper puree on base of plate.  Place handfuls of spinach salad in the middle, allowing the puree to hold the spinach in place. Place polenta cakes directly on top of spinach, and top with shrimp and Red Chili Honey Butter Sauce.  Enjoy!

A couple other favorite recipes:
Chicken Salad with Pecans, Grape, and Green Pepper

Wensleydale Apple Cranberry Tartlets with Thyme Shortbread Crust and Bourbon Glaze

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