Bringing the Bayou Home: Creole Shrimp and Polenta Recipe

In July, I visited Louisiana and hit the highway to head out to the city of Houma, the heart of Cajun country.  While I was there, I did what any self-respecting foodie would do–I bought a suitcase full of authentic spices, hand-blended and packaged right on the bayou.  Filé powder, Creole seasoning (used in this recipe), seafood boil–you name it, I bought it.

All those wonderful, aromatic spices have been collecting dust on my spice rack since I returned.  Truthfully, I really didn’t need everything I purchased, but who could pass up those spice blends?

So, in this recipe I put some of those seasonings to good use to create a sublime rendition of the treasured classic shrimp and grits.  I will warn you, though; this recipe is a bit time-consuming and labor-intensive but the results are well worth the elbow grease.

Creole Shrimp and Polenta

(as adapted from a recipe by Emeril Lagasse)

Ingredients (for the shrimp and sauce):

3 pounds large Gulf shrimp, in their shells

2 tablespoons Creole seasoning

Cracked black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup chopped onions

2 tablespoons minced garlic

3 bay leaves

3 lemons, peeled and sectioned

2 cups water

½ cup Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup dry white wine

¼ teaspoon salt

2 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon chopped chives

1 tablespoon chopped parsley


1.  Peel the shrimp, leaving only their tails attached.  Reserve the shells and set aside.  Using a sharp paring knife, split the back of the shrimp and remove the vein.  Sprinkle the shrimp with 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning and fresh cracked black pepper.  Use your hands to coat the shrimp with the seasonings.  Refrigerate the shrimp while you make the sauce base.

2.  Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pot over high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic and sauté for 1 minute.  Add the reserved shrimp shells, the remaining Creole seasoning, the bay leaves, lemons, water, Worcestershire, wine, salt, and black pepper.  Stir well and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove from the heat, allow to cool for about 15 minutes.  Strain into a small saucepan.  There should be about 1½ cups.  Place over high heat, bring to a boil, and cook until thick, syrupy, and dark brown, for about 15 minutes.  Makes about 4 to 5 tablespoons of sauce base.

3.  Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the seasoned shrimp and sauté them, occasionally shaking the skillet, for 2 minutes.  Add the cream and all of the sauce base.  Stir and simmer for 3 minutes.  Remove the shrimp to a warm platter with tongs and whisk the butter into the sauce.  Remove from the heat.  Spoon a large ladleful of polenta into a shallow bowl; mound shrimp on top.  Spoon  the sauce over the shrimp and around the plate.  Garnish with chopped chives and parsley.


Ingredients (for the polenta):

2 cups of water

1 cup of chicken stock

1 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of corn meal


1.  Add 1 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of salt to a large saucepan. Whisk in 1 cup of corn meal.

2.  In a small pot, mix 1 cup of water and 1 cup of chicken stock over high heat; bring to a boil.  Add boiling water/stock mixture to cornmeal. Heat the mixture on medium heat, stirring constantly for 15-20 minutes, or until desired consistency is reached; serve hot with shrimp.

About Iris "The Palate Princess" M.

Food writer | Author of Food Lovers' Guide to Philadelphia, Main Squeeze: Juicing Recipes for Your Healthiest Self, and On the Line (coming soon)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *