Fancy something spicy and a little different? Try this Prawn and Chorizo Stew with Creamy Polenta, a Creole recipe, also known in America as Shrimp with Grits. Grits is made of coarse cornmeal cooked to a similar consistency as mashed potato. When cooked the texture is never as smooth as mash would be, holding still the subtle bite of each small grain. In Europe grits is known as polenta and used widely in Italian cuisine.
So here combines the mix of flavours for this dish. Creole cuisine is a style of cooking originating from the population of people who were born to settlers in French colonial Louisiana, New Orleans, and blends French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Native American, and Caribbean cooking. Mediterranean flavours, with Caribbean chilli heat, Italian inspired tomato based sauces and French butter roux.
Polenta lends a subtle creamy corn base and lets the rich stew of delicate sweet prawn and spicy chorizo shine through. This dish is an American Diner favourite and rightly so, the layers of flavour are unique, interesting and completely addictive.
Prawn and Chorizo Stew with Creamy Polenta
10 large green prawns with heads on (or 14 smaller ones)
1 small stick celery, sliced fine
1/2 red onion, chopped fine
1/2 red pepper, chopped fine
1 fresh red chilli
Splash of brandy
1 tbsp butter
Chopped parsley and chives for garnish
10 prawn heads and shells
1/2 small onion, roughly chopped into chunks
1 small celery stick, roughly chopped into chunks
1/2 carrot, roughly chopped into chunks
4 whole peppercorns
1 clove garlic,
1 tbsp tomato paste
720ml chicken stock
1/2 tsp salt
150g coarse polenta
1. Start by making Polenta. In a medium-sized heavy based saucepan, bring milk, stock and salt to the boil. Once boiling remove from heat and gradually add polenta, stirring the entire time to get a smooth consistency. Return to very low heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes. The polenta will stick slightly to the bottom of the pan which is normal, however it should not burn.
2. To make the stock for the stew, remove prawn heads gently and peel prawns of their shell. Reserve shells and heads.
3. Add a splash of oil to a saucepan and throw in the onion, carrot, celery, peppercorns and garlic. Cook a few minutes but do not brown. Now add tomato paste, stirring for 1 minute, followed by the prawn heads and shells. When shells have turned pink add a splash of brandy and cook until evaporated.
4. Next step is to cover stock ingredients with water, just enough so all ingredients are submerged. Bring to the boil, place a lid on top and turn to simmer for 20 minutes. Make sure water does not evaporate. When done drain stock and discard vegetable and shells.
5. To finish the stew: Fry prawns briefly in a pan with a little oil until coloured but barely cooked. Remove from pan and fry Chorizo until cooked. Remove from fat.
6. In a clean frying pan, add a little oil and cook onion, celery, red pepper, chilli and garlic until soft. Add chorizo and drained prawn shell stock. Cook gently until thickened into a nice sauce, then return prawns to the pan for a few minutes to heat through.
7. Remove prawn stew from heat, stir in butter and give a good squeeze of lemon juice. Serve on top of creamy polenta, garnish with parsley and chives.