Monday, July 28, 2008

You say "Polenta", I say "Cornmeal"

As I set out to purchase the ingredients for tonight's dinner I found myself standing stumped on Aisle 11 looking for answers. I needed to buy polenta and all I could find was cornmeal. Were these two ingredients the same thing? Or did I need to search harder for polenta? I called my brother-in-law who is a great cook and uses polenta in recipes often. He said that they were indeed the same thing and that if I purchased cornmeal I would have achieved my goal. So I picked up the cornmeal and went on my way. Later that night he emailed me an article to let me know that they were made of the same ingredient but the size of the grind is what separated the two. I researched further on the Internet and could not find a definitive answer. There were several conflicting reports. Some stated that the size of the grind was the difference (like the article from Robbie). Others said that polenta was what the Italians called cornmeal - indicating they were the same thing. And then finally, I found several articles that described polenta as cooked cornmeal that results in a porridge like side dish. So can any of my readers enlighten me? What is the difference, or is there any?

Polenta Crusted Shrimp with Mustard and Herb Mayonnaise
Giada De Laurentiis

Mustard and Herb Mayonnaise:
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon leaves ( I omitted this ingredient)
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Polenta Crusted Shrimp:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten (I used Egg Beaters)
1 1/2 cups polenta
2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tail-on
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt, for sprinkling

To make the Mustard and Herb Mayonnaise:

In a medium bowl combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, Dijon mustard, tarragon, and chives. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make the Polenta Crusted Shrimp:

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 475 degrees F. Cover a heavy-duty baking sheet with aluminum foil. Combine the flour, sea salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour the beaten eggs into another small bowl. Mix together the polenta, paprika and thyme in a medium bowl.

Working in batches, dredge the shrimp in the flour. Shake off any excess flour. Dip the flour-dredged shrimp into the eggs and then coat with the polenta mixture.

Drizzle the shrimp, on both sides, with the olive oil. Place the shrimp on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 to12 minutes until crisp and golden. Sprinkle with the kosher salt.

Serve immediately with the Mustard and Herb Mayonnaise.

This was a really yummy dish. The cornmeal/polenta gave the shrimp a delicious crunch and the Herb Mayo was very tasty. We had it as a main entree but it would be amazing served as an appetizer at a party too!


Gabriela said...

Going by presentation alone, the polenta encrusted shrimp must have been scrumptuous. You really are quite the gourmet.

Joelen said...

I'm definitely trying this since I have polenta I need to use. Your presentation is awesome!

Anonymous said...

I hope Tim doesn't check your blog too regularly....All this fancy food and presentation...I don't want him to think all wives do this...Although that might make him want to marry me quicker? : )

Paula said...

What a lovely presentation! I've not had shrimp prepared this way before, and it looks very tasty! That herb mayo sounds delicious, too!

Esi said...

These look great!! I have never understood the difference either, but from what I understand they are the same thing.

Cheryl said...

That looks incredibly good, I love that they are baked not fried! Excellent!

Lisa said...

What a great alternative use for polenta! My husband isn't a big fan of polenta the traditional way so I'll have to try this. I need to use up the box I bought.

Sara<3 said...

I saw this episode of Everyday Italian too! It looks SO good!

Deborah said...

This looks amazing - and I've been craving shrimp lately! As for polenta/cornmeal, I don't know the answer. I have a hard time finding what is labeled as polenta, but when I have, it looks the same as cornmeal to me!

Nate-n-Annie said...

I love your picture on foodgawker. Really nice. And this looks like a great way to cook shrimp.

J for Kitchen Confit said...

Looks delicious! Great Picture!

Maryanna said...

I've got some polenta that I need to use up. Thanks for the great recipe. Your presentation looks amazing.

My Sweet & Saucy said...

What a great looking recipe! I love anything with shrimp!

MaryBeth said...

I love shrimp in any way I can get and this is a way i have never seen. It really looks awesome.

Woody said...

i like anything with a sauce to dip in.

Sarah Phillips said...

Hi Elizabeth,
Yes polenta and cornmeal are indeed the same thing! I have an American recipe book that requires 'corn meal' in lots of it's dishes (I live in England) but could never find it in the shops. It wasn't until recently that I realised what you guys call corn meal is what we call polenta and I had been using it for ages anyway! So yes they are ultimately the same thing, perhaphs just used a little differently in different countries.