CRIOLLA MAMA

(Barbecued Shrimp with a Corn and Goat Cheese Torta)

 

You can serve this dish with rice instead of the torta. If you add a few more shrimp, this dish will make a nice dinner. The Criolla Mama sauce will keep refrigerated for up to a week, and it freezes well.

  • Criolla Tomato Mama (see recipe below)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh sweet corn kernels
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 ounce soft chèvre (goat cheese)
  • Corn Kernel Cakes (see recipe below)
  • 2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 12 large shrimp (about 10-12 ounces), peeled and deveined

Prepare the Criolla Mama Sauce. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

 

Bring a skillet to high heat and add the butter. When it begins to foam, add the garlic. Cook for a few seconds, then add the corn, salt, and pepper. Cook the corn until it begins to blister, about 2 minutes. Add the cream and heat through. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl, add the chèvre, and mix well.

Prepare the corn cakes. Arrange eight of them on a work surface and spread four of them with an equal amount of the corn and chèvre mixture.Top each with another cake. Place this torta on an ovenproof platter and keep warm in the oven.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and when very hot, add the olive oil and then the shallot. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and add to the skillet, stirring rapidly. When the shrimp are just cooked (2 to 3 minutes), add the Criolla Mama sauce, stir, and heat through. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Place a stack of cakes on the center of each serving plate. Prop 3 shrimp around it and spoon the sauce over the shrimp and around the torta. Serve the extra corn cakes on the side.

Serves 4

Criolla Tomato Mama

Makes about 2 cups.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ounce smoked bacon, diced
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet chile, seeded and minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/3 red onion, diced
  • 1 large stalk celery, diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons Spanish sherry vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf, broken
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2/3 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 teaspoon Tabasco® sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano leaves
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 1 1/2 cups concassé tomatoes (2 large tomatoes) or 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan and sauté the bacon over medium heat until it is almost cooked. Add the Scotch Bonnet and garlic, and sauté for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

Add the butter, sugar, onion, celery, and bell peppers. Turn up the heat to medium-high and sauté for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the vegetables just begin to caramelize. Add the vinegar and reduce the heat to medium. Add the bay leaf, cayenne, black pepper, salt, Tabasco, thyme, basil, oregano, and 1/2 cup of the stock, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining stock and the tomatoes, and cook for 15 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Adjust the seasoning and keep warm. (If making ahead of time, keep refrigerated.)

 

Corn Kernel Cakes

  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup cooked or canned corn kernels
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 Scotch Bonnet chile, seeded and minced
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons peanut oil, for frying

In a mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and sugar together and set aside. In a blender, cream the milk and 1/2 cup of the corn kernels together and set aside.

Separate two of the eggs, placing the whites into a mixing bowl large enough for beating. Place the egg yolks in a separate bowl, add the remaining whole egg, and whisk together. Add the creamed corn mixture, the remaining corn kernels, the Scotch Bonnet chile, and butter to the whisked egg mixture, and then stir in the cornmeal mixture. Beat the egg whites until stiff and gently fold them into the cornmeal mixture.

Rub a skillet with a little of the peanut oil. When fairly hot, add 2 tablespoons of batter for each cake and cook for 30 seconds over medium-high heat until golden brown on both sides. Repeat for the remaining cakes. Keep warm in the oven or serve immediately.

Makes 15 to 20 three-inch cakes