Adam Roberts’ Secrets of the Best Chefs is a collection of trade secrets and insider tips from 50 of the best chefs in America. It's sort of like hiding in the corner of an expert chef's kitchen, only not as creepy and a lot more fun. Our Cooking columnist calls this cookbook "fabulous."

Shrimp and Polenta with Chorizo


Serves 2

Chorizo is a magical ingredient, the kind of thing that makes your food taste way more accomplished without asking anything of you beyond just buying it. D’Artagnan sells a good-quality chorizo that is readily available; just make sure you’re buying Spanish chorizo, which is already cooked, and not Mexican chorizo, which is raw. You can expand or contract this dish based on your needs: Feeding a bigger crowd? Double the amounts. Feeding just yourself? Cook as much chorizo and shrimp as you’d like to eat. It’s really that simple.

58_Peter Dale's Shrimp and Polenta with Chorizo


  • 2 cups water

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • A pinch of kosher salt

  • 1 cup polenta(not the quick-cooking kind)

  • ½ cup small-diced Spanish chorizo

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 8 to 12 fresh uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined, patted dry with paper towels

  • ¼ cup white wine

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh tomatoes

  • ¼ cup chopped roasted red peppers

  • A big pinch of chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

  • A handful of arugula

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan


To make the polenta, bring the water and milk to a boil, add a pinch of salt, and then turn off the heat. Sift the polenta into the hot liquid, whisking all the while (this prevents lumps). Turn the heat back to low and cook, whisking every so often, for 30 minutes, or until the polenta gets really thick (you may need to switch to a wooden spoon).

Meanwhile, add the chorizo to a medium skillet (not nonstick) with the olive oil. Slowly bring up the heat to low and render the fat. You don’t want too much color or for the chorizo to get crisp.

When the oil has turned orange and most of the fat has been rendered, push all the chorizo to the side and turn up the heat to medium high. Add all the shrimp: they should sizzle. You want the shrimp to get some color, so make sure the pan is hot enough.

Once the shrimp have some color, add the wine to deglaze the pan. Use a spoon to work up any brown bits and then add the tomatoes and the red peppers. Turn up the heat to reduce the sauce.

secretsofthebestchefsFeel the shrimp: they should be relatively firm and should look opaque. Add the parsley and arugula. Taste for seasoning; you may not need any salt because the chorizo is salted.

Stir the butter and Parmesan into the polenta and spoon the polenta onto serving dishes. Top with the shrimp and chorizo mixture and serve right away.

Excerpted from Secrets of the Best Chefs by Adam Roberts (Artisan Books). Copyright 2012. Photograph by Johnny Miller. Read our review of this book.

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