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Cajun prawns, creamy tomato sauce and cheesy polenta

Main Winter
Serves 4
Prep 30 min
Cook 50 min

This is a take on the famous southern US shrimp and grits. If you buy the prawns with their shells and heads on, use those to make your own shellfish stock. You can get ahead by making the sauce well in advance, but don’t cook the prawns and polenta until you’re ready to serve.


75ml olive oil
150g smoked cooking chorizo, casings discarded and roughly crumbled into 1 ½cm pieces
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped into 1cm cubes (120g net weight)
1 green pepper, chopped into roughly 2 ½cm cubes
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
4 tsp Cajun spice mix
1 tin plum tomatoes, roughly crushed (400g)
1½ tsp caster sugar
salt and black pepper
60ml double cream
10g chives, chopped into 1½cm lengths, plus extra chopped to serve
350g extra-large king prawns (peeled and de-veined)
500ml shellfish stock
350ml whole milk
60g unsalted butter, cut into roughly 2cm cubes
200g quick-cook polenta
120g gruyere, roughly grated


  1. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan on a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chorizo and paprika, and cook for about three minutes, or until browned and beginning to crisp up. Drain the chorizo oil through a sieve into a small bowl, set the chorizo (and its oil) aside and return the pan to the heat with another two tablespoons of oil.
  2. Add the onion and celery, and cook until softened and lightly coloured – about five minutes. Add the pepper, garlic and three teaspoons of Cajun spice and cook for a minute, until fragrant.
  3. Add the tomatoes, sugar, chorizo, 250ml water, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes, stirring now and then, until thick and rich. Stir through the cream and chives and keep warm until needed.
  4. Pat the prawns dry, toss in a medium bowl with the remaining teaspoon of Cajun spice, a third of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and set aside while you make the polenta.
  5. Add the stock, milk, butter, 200ml water, one and a quarter-teaspoons of salt and a good grind of pepper to a medium saucepan on a medium-high heat. Bring to a gentle simmer, turn the heat to medium and slowly add the polenta, whisking continuously until completely mixed in. Continue whisking for about three minutes, or until the polenta is cooked but the mixture is still loose. Whisk in the gruyere and set aside.
  6. Add one and a half teaspoons of oil to a large saute pan on a high heat. Once smoking, add half of the prawns and cook for about three minutes, turning halfway, until browned and cooked through. Transfer to the tomato sauce, add the remaining one and a half teaspoons of oil and repeat with the remaining prawns.
  7. Divide the polenta between four plates. Top with the prawns and tomato sauce, then sprinkle with the extra chives. Drizzle with the reserved chorizo oil and serve at once.