Shrimp and Polenta with Crispy Leeks and Basil Oil
1/2 cup packed basil
1 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Place the basil, oil and salt in a blender or cup of an immersion blender and blend until very well combined and the basil is pureed in the oil.
Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a cup or squirt bottle and discard the solids left in the strainer. Set aside.
1 cup cornmeal
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
salt and pepper
1 lb medium size shrimp, peeled and deveined, cut in half if desired, I like them bite-sized
1 leek, cut into thin half moons
5 shishito peppers or 1 jalapeño thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Heat the chicken stock and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and whisk in the cornmeal, reduce the heat to low, and whisk until all lumps are gone. Cook, stirring frequently, until cornmeal is softened and has absorbed most of the chicken stock, about 20 minutes. Add the corn, heavy cream, lemon zest and lemon juice, stir to combine and bring back to medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan, for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed. Put a lid on top of the pan and set aside while you prepare the shrimp.
Brown Butter Shrimp:
Heat a large cast iron or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and cook until melted and starting to brown. Add the leeks, shishito peppers, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, spread into an even layer in the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then stir and and spread in an even layer, and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until browned in spots and softened. Remove from the pan and set aside while you cook the shrimp. Add another 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan and cook over medium-high heat until starting to brown. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 20 seconds, then add the shrimp and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook stirring constantly until pink, slightly browned and cooked through. Turn the heat off and add the leeks and peppers back to the pan, toss to combine.
Pour a ladle of the polenta into a shallow serving bowl. Add a few large spoonfuls of the shrimp mixture and then drizzle around the basil oil and squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top. Serve immediately.