Shrimp and Polenta

Tonight was an easier evening, everyone was done by 6:30 and home by 7, unfortunately I haven’t been grocery shopping since I came home from Madrid. So today, looking at my email, this was close to the top Shrimp and Pancetta on Polenta. Quick and delicious, I created my grocery list. Most of these ingredients I have onhand, but I needed shrimp, pancetta, and a can of diced tomatoes; I also decided that I would broil asparagus to go with it.

When I got to the store, I quickly decided that the asparagus was not at its peak and started to look for an alternate. The brussel sprouts caught my eye and into the cart they went.

Rather than the instant polenta that the recipe called for, I went back to the baked polenta that I tested for my son’s 17th.

To make this, start the polenta first, everything else can be done while it bakes. I purchased brussel sprouts on the stalk (1 stalk is about ¾-1 lb. and serves 4). Cut the sprouts off, trim the ends, remove any loose or bruised leaves, and then cut in half. Dice the pancetta (have it thick cut, ~⅛-¼” slices at your deli), mince the garlic, chop the parsley, and shred the parmesean. I also had time to put groceries away and pick up the younger boy from weigh-lifting.

With about 20 minutes left on the polenta, start the pancetta in each of the pans as stated int he recipes, stirring and watching to make sure that the pancetta doesn’t burn (nor the garlic in the pan for the shrimp). For the brussel sprouts, remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and set aside, then add the sprouts to the pan and occasionally stir over medium head to get a nice color on them. For the pan with the shrimp add the tomatoes and reduce until thick. At about the same point that you add the shrimp, you should be adding the balsamic vinegar to the brussel sprouts and returning the pancetta.

The brussel sprouts are as beautiful as they are delicious, especially if you cook in cast iron:

 The polenta was perfect again and a great pairing with the shrimp:

Baked Polenta

Side Dishes, Tested and Approved!
makes 8 ∙ difficulty Medium ∙ source Bon Appétit | October 2012


  • 1½ cups polenta (coarse cornmeal)
  • 7½ cups water
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1½ cups finely grated Parmesan
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • black pepper, freshly ground


Preheat oven to 350°. Stir polenta, oil, salt, and water in a 13x9x2” baking dish to blend. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour 15 minutes. Stir in cheese and butter and season with pepper. Smooth top and continue baking until polenta is set and jiggles like custard, 25–30 minutes.

Preheat broiler. Broil polenta, watching very closely to prevent burning, until surface is light golden, 5–7 minutes. Serve immediately for a softer polenta; for a firmer texture, let rest for up to 30 minutes.

Brussels Sprouts With Pancetta And Balsamic Vinegar

Side Dishes, Tested and Approved!, Vegetables

cook 15 to 20 minutes ∙ makes 4 servings ∙ difficulty Easy ∙ source Detroit Free Press | Nov. 20, 2011


  • 2 slices pancetta, thick slices, cut into small pieces (~⅛ lb.)
  • 1¼ pounds brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed and ends trimmed, cut in half
  • 1 Tbsp. sherry
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • salt
  • black pepper, freshly ground


In a large skillet, cook the pancetta or bacon pieces until they are crisp. While the pancetta cooks, rinse the brussels sprouts under water. Remove the pancetta and drain on a paper towel.

Add the brussels sprouts in the same skillet and begin to sauté over medium heat until they start to slightly brown, sprinkling them with the sherry or water so they don’t stick, about 5 minutes.

Drizzle the brussels sprouts with balsamic vinegar and continue sautéing until the sprouts are just tender, about 5 to 6 minutes more.

Season with freshly ground black pepper.

If you can’t find pancetta, substitute thick-cut bacon.

Shrimp and Pancetta on Polenta

Entrées, Shellfish, Tested and Approved!

cook 25 min ∙ makes 4 servings ∙ source Gourmet | November 2009


  • ¼ pound pancetta, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 (14-ounces) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1½ pound cleaned large shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Polenta, cooked as directed


1. Cook polenta according to package/recipe instructions.

2. Cook pancetta, garlic, and red pepper flakes in 2 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until garlic is pale golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice and simmer until liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are just cooked through, about 3 minutes.

3. Spoon polenta into shallow bowls and top with shrimp mixture. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon oil, season with pepper, and sprinkle with parsley.


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