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Polenta Rounds

Polenta Rounds with Tiger Shrimp & Spicy Aioli

This was always one of my go-to recipes for Cocktail Hour at the Inn. The foundation of polenta, enhanced only with a robust cheese (like Gruyere), creates a great neutral platform to highlight a unique topping or sauce. Some of my favorite sauces include pesto, tapenade, smoked tomato confit and the toppings range from sliced duck breast and pulled pork to butter-poached Maine lobster and fresh crab meat.

Polenta Rounds with Tiger Shrimp & Spicy Aioli

Recipe by Michael SalmonCourse: Hors d’OeuvresDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




  • Polenta
  • 2 cups water

  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

  • 1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese

  • Shrimp
  • 12 large (16-20 ct) shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel

  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/8 teaspoon granulated garlic

  • 2 teaspoons coarsely chopped Italian parsley

  • Spicy-Lemon Aioli
  • 4 garlic cloves

  • 2 large egg yolks

  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/3 cup canola oil

  • Kosher salt to taste


  • Combine 1/2 cup of water with the corn meal and salt.
  • Boil the remaining 1 1/2 cups of water over high heat. At a boil, whisk the softened cornmeal into the water, stirring constantly until thickened. Stir in gruyere cheese. Cover and reduce the heat to low, continuing to cook for 5 minutes.
  • For this recipe I use two mini muffin pans. Each pan has 12 small indentations. Place an oversized piece of plastic wrap over each muffin pan. Starting at one end, fill the plastic lined tins with a heaping Tablespoon of the hot corn meal mix. Press the mixture into the tin, forming a firm cake. Using your thumb, create a small indentation in the top of each corn meal round. Refrigerate until set, about 20 minutes.
  • Combine the shrimp with the olive oil, salt and spices. Mix well to combine. Heat a grill pan over high heat and grill the shrimp, for 2 minutes on each side (just barely cook through, or they will be dry). Slice the shrimp in half lengthwise creating 2 equal halves.
  • Un-mold the corn meal rounds and fill the indentation with a dollop of the spicy-lemon aioli.  Top with a grilled shrimp half and a sprinkle of Italian parsley.
  • Spicy-Lemon Aioli
  • Mince the garlic and mash it with the side of a large knife (using a little salt) until it becomes a smooth paste.  
  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, lemon juice, paprika, cayenne and Dijon mustard.

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