Scallops With Cheese Grits

Scallops With Cheese Grits

I love scallops, but shockingly, I am the only one in my family who does. My husband will eat them if I make them into a ceviche, my younger son will sometimes eat them, and my older son will not touch them no matter what. Because of this, I don’t make them at home as often as I would like.

Sea scallops are a sweet-salty, rich, briny seafood. When seasoned well and cooked properly (by searing quickly over high heat to obtain a perfect golden-brown crispy outer surface with a soft center) their flavor is amazing. Scallops are a protein known for their quick cook time but are, most often, overcooked. This is what gives scallops a bad wrap. An overcooked scallop is a bad thing. Scallops should never ever be hard. Their soft, juicy texture is critical and what makes scallops so wonderful.

For this dish I paired two of my favorite things: pan seared scallops with cheese grits. An indulgence in ways, but this particular combination has been a favorite of mine for many years. This is a simple, rustic-style dish that is actually considered a quick meal. The technique of properly searing scallops to golden perfection takes some practice and the grits take a bit of effort, but both are worth it and together make a lovely meal anytime of year.

Scallops with cheese gritsAs a chef I often get a lot of questions about cooking scallops. I find this somewhat suprising because roasting a chicken is substancially more difficult. It’s funny, no one ever asks me about roasting a chicken. Because of all the questions, I decided to compile a list of scallop food facts, just in case you’re interested.

Facts About Scallops: 

Yes. Healthy (or fresh) scallops are pretty safe from transferable parasites unlike other bivalves, so are generally safe to eat raw. For extra saltiness, on any seafood, frozen or day-old (well handled, chilled/iced) will usually kill most parasites.

What color should Scallops be?

In male scallops, the gland is gray/white and therefore the muscle remains white. Female scallops turn pink when they’re spawning; during this time, their glands fill with orange roe and turn coral color, giving the adductor muscle more of a rosy hue.

Can you eat the orange bit of a scallop?

Yes. The roe has a bright coral color you can find when you buy fresh, whole scallops. The coral section can have a slightly bitter taste, which helps to cut through the richness of the rest of the scallop.

Are scallops healthy?

Scallops are considered a low-fat seafood choice that is a good source of protein, minerals, vitamins and are low in cholesterol.

How can you tell if scallops are bad?

Cooked scallops will usually stay good refrigerated for about 3 to 4 days or up to 4 months in the freezer. The best way  to tell if a scallop has gone bad is by smell and appearance. Signs of bad scallops are: a sour smell, dull color and slimy texture.

How long do you cook scallops?

Surpassingly, scallops take just 4-5 minutes to cook. Seared scallops require about about two minutes per side-that’s it!
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Pan Seared Scallops With Cheese Grits

June 5, 2019
: 4
: 15 min
: 25 min
: 40 min
: easy


  • For the Scallops:
  • 2 pounds sea scallops
  • 2 tablespoons extra Virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch fresh chives, finely chopped
  • micro arugula (or similar) for garnish (optional)
  • For the Cheese Grits:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Step 1 For the scallops: Rinse the scallops and pat dry with paper towel. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Step 2 Place the olive oil and butter in a medium cast iron skillet and place over high heat. When hot, but not smoking, add the scallops and sear for about 90 seconds until you see a nice brown crust form. Gently flip the scallops and cook about 90 seconds more. Remove from the heat, place on a plate and reserve.
  • Step 3 For the Cheese Grits: In a medium saucepan add the milk, water and salt, place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Add the cornmeal and garlic and mix to incorporate. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, while stirring regularly until creamy and almost all the liquid as been absorbed, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and mix in the cheese.
  • Step 4 To serve, spoon a generous amount of cheese grits in desired serving bowls. Top with the seared scallops, garnish with chopped chives and micro arugula.

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