PREP ~ 5-8 minutes; COOK ~ 15 minutes
20oz shrimp, peeled and deveined, defrosted
3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 jalapeno, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 large or 2 small poblano peppers, seeds removed and diced
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1+1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Juice from 1 lime
kosher salt and black pepper
1 large avocado, optional
For the Polenta:
1 cup corn grits or polenta (I like Bob's Red Mill)
2 cups whole milk or half and half
2 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
generous pinch of kosher salt
1/4 cup of cream cheese
1 cup shredded colby jack cheese
Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and warm. Once hot, add the poblano peppers and char for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Add jalapeno and corn kernels and season with salt and pepper. Cook another 2-3 minutes until starting to brown, but still crisp. Transfer to a clean plate.
While the corn and peppers cook, measure the milk or half and half and stock or water into a medium saucepan. Add a generous pinch of salt. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Keep a close eye so the milk doesn't boil over. Stir often.
Dry the shrimp on paper towel then place in a mixing bowl. Season with salt, pepper and the smoked paprika and toss until coated evenly.
Once the milk mixture starts to boil, slowly whisk in the polenta. Adding it slowly while whisking helps prevent clumps. Make sure polenta does not get stuck in the corners of the pot. Once all the polenta is added, cover partially with a lid (leave ajar if you will) and lower heat. Simmer for 10 minutes until liquid is absorbed and mixture is creamy. Stir often.
Place the same pan you used for the peppers and corn back over medium-high heat and add another tablespoon of olive oil. Once oil is hot, add the shrimp. For smaller shrimp, cook 2-3 minutes until caramelized, then cook on the second side another 2-3 minutes just until sides look cooked through. Larger shrimp will take 1-2 minutes more per side. Add the peppers and corn back to the pan and toss to combine. Turn off the heat, and squeeze in the juice of one lime and the fresh cilantro. Mix well then hold in the pan until the polenta is ready.
Once polenta has simmered, turn off the heat and stir in the cream cheese and shredded cheese. Stir until melted and check final seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Scoop polenta onto each dinner plate and top with the shrimp mixture. Finish with fresh avocado slices, if desired. Serve warm!