Shrimp and Polenta Wedges

Shrimp and Polenta Wedges

Each of us spent several years living in North Carolina, though at different times. Our mutual favorite meal while we were there was the shrimp and grits at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill. Once we moved up north, we adapted it into a party-friendly finger food using polenta.

Ingredients Directions

For the shrimp

6 slices bacon, diced
olive oil for cooking
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and roughly chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 1/2 cups diced white mushrooms
1 1/2 cups sliced scallions (white and pale green parts)
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Tabasco sauce, or more to taste
salt and pepper

For the polenta

4 cups chicken stock
2 cups quick-cooking polenta
2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
pinch cayenne
pinch ground nutmeg

Prepare the shrimp

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until brown around the edges but not too crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Add enough olive oil to the bacon fat in the skillet to make a thin layer. Add the chopped shrimp. Sauté until pink and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

If the pan is dry add another tablespoon of olive oil. Add garlic and sauté for about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and sauté, stirring frequently, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the scallions and sauté until wilted, another 1 to 2 minutes.

Return the shrimp and bacon to the skillet, sprinkle with the lemon juice and Tabasco, and stir until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Prepare the polenta

Butter a 13x9x2 inch pan.

In a large saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Slowly add the polenta, stirring constantly. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for another 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, until thickened.

Add the cheese, salt, pepper, cayenne, and nutmeg and stir until the cheese is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Immediately add the shrimp mixture. Stir until thoroughly mixed, then remove from heat.

Spread the mixture in the buttered pan. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes to firm up. Cut into 1 1/2-inch squares, then diagonally across the squares to form triangles. Serve warm.

Makes about 150 pieces.

Make-Ahead Factor

The shrimp can be made 1 day ahead and kept covered and refrigerated. The squares can be cut 1 day ahead and kept covered and refrigerated. Warm them in a 350°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes.

From Cocktail Parties, Straight Up! Easy Hors D'oeuvres, Delicious Drinks and Inspired Ideas for Entertaining with Style by Lauren and Anne Purcell.