Summer Stew and Le Creuset

Events and Discoveries

This just started out as Monday dinner. I bought this wild caught shrimp at Shogun at the Market on Saturday, and needed to use them. Since I found this recipe for Summer Shrimp & Corn Sauté last week and had it on my mind, I bought the fresh corn, as well. In this season, I always have lots of fresh tomatoes on hand.

I did the recipe straight and was not disappointed. So why write about a straight, easy, darned good recipe?

summer stew cooks

summer stew cooks

When I transcribed the recipe from the SF Chronicle (ok, copy and paste from the “e-edition”) I made a note to serve with grits, since I had a hankering for grits at the time. Today, I had a hankering for polenta (largely because Carol got a tube of store-bought polenta to serve with pesto last week, and I ate it a couple times for breakfast and lunch). I haven’t yet perfected my go-to polenta recipe, foolproof, good tasting, EZ making. Although I have evolved beyond the stand over the pot and stir for a half hour stage, I still haven’t reached the tried and true ingredients + method = results stage. Good time to work on it.

polenta cooks

polenta cooks

This time, I combined a Mark Bittman “Polenta Without Fear” (3 to 1, liquid to cornmeal) recipe with a recipe I transcribed from a Cooks Illustrated video (4 to 1, liquid to cornmeal). Basically, I added a cup of milk to the Bittman recipe (2C milk, 2C water; CI uses all water) and used the CI method: “Bring liquid to a boil with lid on, sprinkle corn meal into water while whisking vigorously…” I interpreted “vigorously” as “in a frenzy” from the video. Cover (Bittman doesn’t cover) and cook over low low heat for 1/2 hour, whisking every 5 minutes. (Note: you see a wooden spoon in the picture. That was for final stirring, I used a strong whisk for the initial whisking.)

left to right: green le creuset, red teakettle, orange chicken-fryer

left to right: green le creuset, red teakettle, orange chicken-fryer

The other revelation, friends and neighbors, was to break out my Le Creuset “chicken fryer.” It’s been buried in a bottom cupboard for years, but has particularly good properties for polenta: the right size at 2-quart, rather wide and shallow with slanted sides for ease of stirring, and cast iron to maintain steady heat. For similar reasons, for the Shrimp and Corn Saute, I used my 3-quart “green Le Creuset.” (I couldn’t find a proper name for it from the Le Creuset web site, as they don’t make one just like it anymore. The closest is a “saucier.”)

So there you have it;
Eventsfinding a new recipe for a swell dinner, and Discoveries re-discovering some Le Creuset pans, perfect for one or two.


Summer Shrimp & Corn Sauté

Serves 4 By Amanda Gold SF Chronicle

Serve this over couscous, rice or pasta — you’ll have plenty of extra sauce in the pan. If you prefer to have a good char on the shrimp, cook them first, then remove them to a plate while you finish the dish, then add them back in at the end to warm through. Be sure to season as you go, which helps build flavor.


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup diced red bell pepper
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste ??1?3 cup dry white wine
¾ pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
Kernels from 2 large ears corn
1½ cups chopped ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons minced scallions
2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil + more for garnish
Cooked couscous, rice or pasta, for serving

In a large skillet, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and red peppers and cook, stirring frequently so the garlic doesn’t burn, until the peppers are slightly softened, 3-4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.??Add the wine, bring to a simmer and cook until the liquid partially evaporates, about 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and corn, and cook, stirring, until the shrimp are cooked through, another 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, scallions and basil, and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes are warmed through and have released some of their juices.??Season to taste, and serve immediately over couscous, rice or pasta, garnishing with more basil, if desired.

Salad yellow beans, prim mateka beans, corn, fresh mozzarella and tomato on Lil Gem lettuce

MR Go-To Polenta
based on Polenta Without Fear By Mark Bittman (NYT 2009) and a fairly recent Cooks Illustrated video linked to their newsletter.


2 cups milk (preferably whole milk)
2 cups water
1 cup coarse cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 to 4 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup or more freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to taste, optional

1. Bring milk and water mixture to a boil in a medium saucepan and add a large pinch of salt. Adjust heat so liquid simmers. Sprinkle into water while whisking vigorously — as if in a frenzy — it’s OK to take off heat and just whisk. When it has all been added, let mixture return to a boil, then turn heat to low. Polenta should be just barely simmering.
2. Cook, stirring occasionally and being sure to scrape sides and bottom of pan, for 15 to 20 minutes, until mixture is creamy and cornmeal tastes cooked. If mixture becomes too thick, whisk in some water, about 1/2 cup at a time.
3. Taste and season polenta as necessary with salt and pepper. Take pan off stove, stir in the butter or oil and the cheese if you are using it, and serve, passing more cheese at the table if you like.
Depending on how you will use the polenta, vary the liquid while maintaining the 4:1 ratio; I have seen all water or all chicken broth in various recipes, as well as this combination of milk and water. Likewise, at the end, add butter, olive oil, heavy cream, grated cheese, shredded cheese or cream cheese or a combination, depending on your intended use.

3 thoughts on “Summer Stew and Le Creuset

  1. Awesome. Can’t wait to try.


  2. No offense, but don’t you think the salad with corn and tomatoes is a little redundant with this stew?

    I keep trying to develop a taste for polenta, but haven’t gotten there yet. Your recipe sounds pretty tasty. Glad to hear you (or Carol) actually purchase store bought polenta.


  3. Pam, I doubt UM (he’s uncle marcus to me) takes offense; nonetheless, using the word “redundant” in re: tomatoes in August to me seems odd. To each!


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