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Very Soft Polenta with Rock Shrimp Ragout

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A classic dish from the coastal villages outside of Trieste, where the fresh seafood is among the most prized in the world. The polenta that accompanies the shrimp must be very soft, almost saucelike. "Thick, lumpy polenta is criminal in that part of Italy, and justly so.

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup quick-cooking polenta (6 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 pounds shelled rock shrimp
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • Freshly ground pepper

Details

Preparation

Step 1

1. In a medium saucepan, bring 5 cups of water to a boil with the sugar. Whisk in the polenta in a thin stream. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt. Press a piece of parchment or wax paper directly onto the surface of the polenta and keep warm.
2. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the scallions and crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until slightly darkened, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and 1/4 cup of water and simmer over moderately high heat for 1 minute. Add the shrimp and simmer, stirring, until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley, lemon juice and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
3. Rewarm the polenta over moderately high heat, whisking constantly. Spoon a pool of polenta in the center of 8 shallow bowls. Spoon the shrimp and sauce over and around the polenta and serve right away.

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