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Apr 9, 2011

Tequila Flambéed Shrimp over Sautéed Asparagus and Parmesan Polenta

Fancy Friday night dinner!

I bought a pound of shrimp a couple days ago because it was on sale. K is very picky when it comes to shrimp — it cannot just be cooked any which way, the shrimp have to have a good sear on both sides, which pretty much eliminates a lot of Italian recipes and Indian curries. I had been craving polenta since I stole some from K when it came with his braised short-rib dinner at Grafton St. When I saw the cover of the latest “Real Simple” recipe collection with a pretty picture of a shrimp dish with crispy bacon and plum tomatoes over cheesy grits, I thought I could make something like that with polenta underneath instead of grits. That cover dish was my inspiration for this dinner, but I could not make it as is because K does not like tomatoes with shrimp (if he likes tomatoes in anything but salads), and I desperately wanted some spice and cilantro, being the girl from the tropics… so I threw in those plus some tequila for a Mexican-inspired dinner with some asparagus for greenery. And out came a fancy homemade Friday night dinner in under an hour!

The recipe looks long but it a balanced meal – complete with starch, protein and greens. No need to fix a salad and a salad dressing or roast veggies to put on the side; everything is right here and is part of the main course presentation for an eye-catching dinner. This one you can definitely make for a dinner party.

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Tequila Flambéed Shrimp over Sautéed Asparagus and Parmesan Polenta

The recipe looks long but it a balanced meal - complete with starch, protein and greens. No need to fix a salad and a salad dressing or roast veggies to put on the side; everything is right here and is part of the main course presentation for an eye-catching dinner. This one you can definitely make for a dinner party.

Ingredients:

1 lb shrimp (21-30 shrimp/lb)
5 strips of bacon
2 Thai chilli peppers (can substitute with jalapeno), slit lengthwise
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped coarsely
1.5 shots good Tequila (I used Hornitos)
freshly squeezed juice of half a lime
1/3 of a bunch asparagus
1/2 Tb extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 dashes of Maggi Seasoning
1 package instant polenta
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Cut the strips of bacon into 1" pieces. Spread the pieces out in a skillet and render the bacon fat out over medium-low heat.

2. While the bacon is on the stove, peel the shrimp, cut the asparagus into 1"pieces on the diagonal discarding the woody stems, and grate the cheese. Move the bacon pieces around so that most of the fat from the bacon is rendered and the pieces crisp up.

3. When the bacon is done, remove with a slotted spoon onto paper towels to drain. Turn the heat up to high so the bacon fat heats up to smoking.

4. When the fat starts to smoke add the shrimp in a single layer without overcrowding. You will need to do this in batches. Leave the shrimp undisturbed for a 1-1.5 minutes. Flip using tongs and fry the other side for 1 minute. Remove to paper towel making sure to keep the shrimp in a single layer. Repeat until all the shrimp are fried. Shrimp should not be overcooked or it turns chewy.

5. Cook the polenta according to package instructions. Mine involved bringing 4.5 cups of water to a rapid boil and then adding the polenta in while stirring constantly. The polenta thickens in about 30 seconds. Add in the cheese. Whisk or stir one last time.

6. In a small non-stick skillet, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, throw in the asparagus and spread them out in the skillet. Leave them alone for half a minute and then toss to sauté the other side. Drizzle the Maggi Seasoning over the asparagus and mix once. Turn the heat off. Set aside.

7. Return all the shrimp to the pan along with the Thai chillies and the crispy bacon slices. Remove the seeds from the chillies if you want flavour but not spice. Add the tequila (not straight from the bottle - FIRE HAZARD!) and tilt the skillet to ignite the fumes if you have a gas stove or use a piece of long pasta to ignite the flames. In both cases, keep you face away so you don't singe your eyebrows off!

8. Allow the flames to burn off. Sprinkle the cilantro and the lime juice. Mix one last time.

9. To serve, spread the polenta in the centre of the plate to in a flat round shape, make a bed of asparagus in the middle of the polenta and using a slotted spoon (to avoid any unnecessary artery-clogging bacon fat) layer 7-8 pieces of shrimp and a couple pieces of bacon on top in a mound over the asparagus for a classy, fancy dinner. Serve immediately and enjoy!

 


 


 

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