Thursday, March 20, 2008

Fried Cornmeal Shrimp with Butternut Squash Risotto

I enjoyed getting a little silly with this dish. I had blue cornmeal on hand, and I just couldn't resist the idea of crusting my little shrimps with it. I think the contrast between the shrimp and the risotto is lovely, too.

Happy First Day of Spring, btw. The weather here is more than a bit crazy. I feel like we're going to get blown away at any minute, the wind is so wicked. It was one of those mornings that had me not wanting to get out of our nice warm cozy bed. I even got back in a few times... got up, fed the cats, got back into bed. Got up, started the shower, got back into bed. I stayed in as long as I could... but we have bills to pay, so off to work I went. Sad. :)

This dish would be perfect for a windy, chilly day like today, because you'll need to hover over the stove stirring the risotto. I always feel like risotto is something of a present to myself on a cold day, because I'm almost always cold at home, so hovering over a nice warm stove makes me really happy.

I cheated a little and roasted my squash the night before. This is also a good time to get your shrimp soaking in their garlicy marinade. Both of those pieces accomplished, all you really need to worry about is stirring your rice and battering and frying your shrimp.

One last note about the shrimp and risotto, and then I'll shush up. These go really well together. The cornmeal-crust is such a nice crunchy contrast to the creamy risotto. The spark of the garlic in the shrimp popped against the smooth friendliness of the butternut squash. All around, this dish was just plain great.

Fried Cornmeal Shrimp with Butternut Squash Risotto
c/o Bon Appetit Magazine, October 2007

1 1 3/4- to 2-pound butternut squash

24 uncooked large shrimp (about 1 1/4 pounds), peeled, deveined
3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 large garlic cloves, peeled, smashed, plus 2 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

5 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme, divided
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
1/2 cup dry white wine

Vegetable oil (for frying)

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F. Pierce squash several times. Place on baking sheet; roast until tender, about 1 hour. Cool. Cut squash in half; discard seeds. Scoop flesh into processor. Puree until smooth. Measure 1 1/2 cups puree (reserve remaining puree for another use).

Place shrimp, 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, and 3 smashed garlic cloves in large reseal-able plastic bag; turn to coat. Chill 2 to 3 hours, turning bag occasionally.

Stir cornmeal, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in medium bowl. Add shrimp; toss. Arrange in single layer on large plate.

Preheat oven to 200°F. Bring broth to simmer in heavy small saucepan; reduce heat to low and keep hot. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until beginning to brown, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add chopped garlic and 2 teaspoons thyme; stir 1 minute. Add rice and stir 1 minute. Add wine; stir until almost absorbed, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add 1 cup hot broth and cook until almost all liquid is absorbed, stirring often. Continue adding hot broth 1 cup at a time and stirring frequently until rice is almost tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, add enough vegetable oil to heavy large skillet to reach depth of 1/4 inch. Heat oil over high heat. Working in 2 batches, fry shrimp until golden brown and cooked through, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to paper-towel-lined baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm.

Re-warm reserved 1 1/2 cups squash puree in microwave. Add warm puree to risotto and stir until rice is tender but still firm, about 2 minutes. Stir in Parmesan cheese and remaining 2 teaspoons thyme. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide risotto among bowls. Top with shrimp and serve.


Deborah said...

Yeah, the first day of Spring and I didn't see the sun until about 10am because of all of the clouds and rain! :)

I don't know why I find this so crazy, but I had some fish that was fried in a cornmeal coating for dinner last night!! Your dish sounds AMAZING though!!

Sharona May said...

Sounds very good. I especially like the Butternut Squash Risotto.

Sharona May