Rock Shrimp Polpette Recipe From Chef Tony Mantuano

To learn more about this recipe, see our related story, Polpette Ahoy, in our Chicago edition.

Recipe adapted from Tony Mantuano, Bar Toma, Chicago

Rock Shrimp Polpette
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Make Rock Shrimp Polpette from Bar Toma in Chicago.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Crispy Shallots
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced and separated into rings
  • Spicy Tomato Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of chile flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 24 ounces tomato purée, preferably San Marzano or passata
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 fresh basil leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Rock Shrimp Polpette
  • ¼ baguette, soaked in whole milk
  • Zest of 1 small lemon
  • 1¼ pounds rock shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for cooking
  • 3 Calabrian chiles (from a jar), minced, or ½ teaspoon chile flakes
  • 3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
  1. Make the crispy shallots: Preheat the oven to 250°. In a medium skillet set over medium heat, warm the olive oil, then add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the shallots on paper towels and spread evenly on a cookie sheet. Bake until crispy, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Make the tomato sauce: In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the chile flakes and the garlic and cook until the garlic is browned on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes. To avoid splattering, reduce the heat to low. Add the tomato purée and ½ cup of water. Turn up the heat, cover partially to prevent splattering while cooking, and bring to a simmer. Cook until slightly reduced, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the basil leaves and season with salt and pepper. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat before using.
  3. Make the shrimp polpette: Squeeze as much milk as possible out of the bread. In a food processor, pulse the bread with the lemon zest and 1 pound of the shrimp until ground. Coarsely chop the remaining ¼ pound of shrimp and fold it into the ground shrimp mixture. Add the salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons olive oil, minced chiles (or chile flakes) and parsley, and stir to combine. Form into 2-inch balls.
  4. In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and let heat for 1 minute. Add the shrimp balls, in batches, if needed, searing on all sides until cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes. Place the balls on a platter and keep warm in the oven while cooking the rest of the balls. Add more olive oil to the pan if necessary. Serve the polpette on a bed of the spicy tomato sauce, with the crispy shallots sprinkled on top.
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