If you’ve ordered fajitas in a restaurant, you’ve likely had the privilege of enjoying the sight of scrumptious sizzling meat and vegetables delivered to you table-side in a flat cast iron pan. What you may not know is that, in most cases, that amazing sizzle is the result of one secret ingredient: butter. Added to the pan just before serving, the melted butter sizzles and spits and pulls all the flavors together in the pan.

This one dish meal brings together sweet shrimp, fresh tomatoes, and crisp-cooked peppers and onions with tender grilled polenta. The brilliance of the slightly cheesy polenta is that it soaks up all the delicious flavors – from the tanginess of the lime to the smoky sweet flavor of chipotle peppers – and pulls it right to the forefront of the dish.

Best of all, if you prepare the polenta ahead of time, this entire meal can be created completely on the grill, keeping your kitchen cool on hot summer days.

Fajita Shrimp & Polenta
By Lori & Paul
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

For the marinade:
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, pureed or finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping teaspoon groound cumin
1 teaspoon crushed Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¼ cup water
¼ cup lime juice

For the fajitas:
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 medium poblano pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium red or yellow pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 medium tomato, sliced into wedges

12 slices grilled polenta (recipe below)
Lime sour cream (recipe below)
Crumbled queso fresco (optional)

Directions:

Combine chipotle puree with salt, garlic, cumin, Mexican oregano, cornstarch, water and lime juice; whisk well to combine. Combine marinade and shrimp in a resealable plastic bag, seal the bag and shake to gently to coat. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, but no longer than 30.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in 12-inch cast iron pan on the stovetop or grill until sizzling. Add peppers and onion, tossing to coat with the butter. Cook vegetables, tossing regularly, for 3-4 minutes or until they are crisp tender. Alternatively, grill vegetables in a grill basket until browned and crisp tender.

Meanwhile, grill polenta rounds.

Remove the vegetables from the grill and set aside in a bowl. Add an additional 1 tablespoon of butter to the hot cast iron skillet. When melted, add shrimp along with a tablespoon or two of marinade. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until shrimp is pink and cooked through. Return vegetables to the pan, along with the tomatoes. Continue cooking 1 minute or just until heated through.

Serve fajita mixture over grilled polenta with a dollop of lime sour cream and a sprinkling of queso fresco (if desired).

Easy Lime Sour Cream
Makes 1 cup

Ingredients:

1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Zest of one lime (about 2 teaspoons)
Pinch of salt

Directions:

Stir together sour cream, lime juice, lime zest and salt until well combined. Store in the refrigerator.

Polenta

Ingredients:

3 cups water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups quick cooking polenta, medium or coarse-grain
pepper
2 tablespoons butter, plus more for pan
2/3 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
¼ cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded
1/4 cup olive oil, for grilling

Directions:

Bring the water and the salt to just a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce the heat, slowly whisk in the polenta and season with pepper. Continue to whisk until the mixture starts to tighten up, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter, Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. Continue to stir until well combined and very thick, tasting to adjust seasonings as needed.

Prepare a 9×13-inch pan by coating the bottom and sides with butter. Pour the hot polenta into the pan, smoothing with a rubber spatula. Set aside to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to set. Polenta can be made one day ahead.

Preheat grill.

Using a 3-inch round biscuit cutter, slice polenta into 12 equal rounds. Alternatively, slice the polenta into 12 equal pieces.

To grill:
Lightly oil the grill grate and brush each side of the polenta with a bit of the olive oil. Grill over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until seared and heated through.

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