If you are crazy about shrimp and grits, then you are going to love my recipe for shrimp with fresh ranchero sauce on charred corn polenta. Wonderfully creamy polenta with charred corn and pepper jack cheese is topped with sautéed shrimp and a vibrant southwestern inspired fresh tomato ranchero sauce.
It seems that shrimp and grits is a very popular dish, perhaps because it can be made any time of the year. The recipe that I am sharing with you, is very similar but with a Southwestern flavor, it is shrimp with fresh ranchero sauce on charred corn polenta . While delicious made in the summer with fresh corn and tomatoes from the garden, I made this meal using frozen corn and deep red, very sweet and juicy grape tomatoes (Sugar Bomb) that are ripened on the vine and sold in the produce section of my local grocery store.
I’ve divided the recipe into easy to follow steps. What is nice is that the charred corn as well as the fresh ranchero sauce can each be made one or two hours ahead of time, if you would like. They can be kept at room temperature until you are ready to prepare the polenta and quickly sauté the shrimp if you are planning to serve the dish to friends on a weekend.
Sautéed Shrimp With Fresh Tomato Ranchero Sauce On Creamy Charred Corn Polenta
Serves 2, adjust the recipe accordingly
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 1 c. fresh or defrosted frozen corn kernels, blotted on paper towels
- salt and pepper to taste
Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add the butter, when melted add the corn. Cook until the corn is slightly charred, about 3 – 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the pan and set aside. (Can be made a couple of hours ahead, covered, and kept at room temperature). When ready, proceed with the polenta.
Charred Corn Polenta
- 1 c. water
- 1 c. chicken stock (can substitute water)
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 c. stone ground polenta or regular corn grits, not instant
- 1/4 – 1/2 c. shredded pepper jack cheese, depending on how cheesy you want the polenta
- charred corn divided in half, see recipe above
Bring water, chicken stock, butter and salt to boil in a medium saucepan. Slowly whisk in the polenta in a fine steady stream to prevent clumping. Reduce heat to simmer and cover with a lid slightly askew to prevent splattering. Stir often with a long handle spoon as it thickens, adding extra liquid if necessary. Cook until the polenta becomes creamy, about 25-30 minutes (the cooking time may be different depending on the polenta you use.) Add the cheese and mix well then stir in half of the charred corn and heat through. Keep warm until ready to serve. If polenta gets too thick, thin with a little water. When ready to serve, ladle polenta into bowls, top with shrimp, ranchero sauce and the remaining charred corn.
Fresh Tomato Ranchero Sauce
- 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 small onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 10 – 12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
- juice from a fresh lime
- 1/2 – 1 tsp. green tabasco sauce, or your favorite hot sauce
- 1/4 tsp. cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
In a small sautéed pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté until just barely soft, about 2 to three minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute. Remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining ingredients. Let sit off the heat for at least 10 to 15 minutes for the flavors to meld. Taste and adjust for seasonings, if necessary. The tomatoes will be barely warned through and your sauce will still have a fresh taste and texture similar to Pico de Gallo.
- 2 – 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 4 – 6 shrimp per person, depending on size, shells removed and deveined
- garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Lightly season the shrimp with seasonings to taste. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan. When hot, add the shrimp and sauté for about 2-4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.
*If you are adjusting the recipe to serve addition people, the basic ratio for cooking polenta is 1 part polenta to 4 parts of liquid.
If you don’t care for spicy, you can substitute jalapeño pepper jack cheese for regular jack cheese or another good melting cheese.
If you want a spicer ranchero sauce add 1 – 2 jalapeño peppers, stemmed, seeds removed and diced (depending on desired spiciness) when you are cooking the onions,Notes From The Kitchen
While I served the shrimp and corn polenta for our evening meal, this would make a nice dish to serve at a weekend brunch. The shrimp and polenta are easily adapted to serving more people. Perhaps you might want to start the brunch with spicy Bloody Marys along with guacamole and chips. Then you could serve the shrimp with the ranchero sauce on top of creamy charred corn polenta along with a salad of shredded cabbage and radishes. Finally to finish the meal, a delicious cool and creamy caramel flan would be a perfect ending.