Scallops are one of those treats that can be very sophisticated or very simple. A pan roasted scallop is easy to make and so are grilled scallops. With a little gussying up they can be made very fancy with out a lot of extra work. The fact is that scallops take only a few minutes to cook on the stove. So, if we can make sides that taste great, but only require a small amount of effort, we can really have a nice meal with not much work.
Inspiration for scallop dishes does not have to come from far afield. We can look just to see what folks are doing with shrimp to get some ideas of what we can do with scallops. A dish that stands out is shrimp and grits. This is a southern classic that is really does well with a scallop twist. While in a classic shrimp and grits bacon may be used, scallops have a more subtle flavor that is better served by something not smoked – pancetta or guanciale come to mind. My favorite is guanciale – a cured pig cheek bacon of sorts. It is very tasty and will add to the flavor of the dish without totally overpowering the scallops.
Making grits tasty is easy, too as they are but a blank slate that takes to sweet and savoury flavors very easily. Most will scoff, but for the recipe below, instant grits will be used. This helps make it a weekday meal for sure. The scallops will be make in 15 minutes and the creamy and delicious grits in 5. Sure, it is fun and tasty to cook with stone ground grits that take longer to cook, but I want to get dinner on the table fast. The main idea of this scallop recipe is to keep is simple, fast and tasty.
Here is the recipe for Pan Roasted Scallops with Guanciale and Lemon Basil Grits
- 16-20 large sea scallops (depending on appetites)
- 1/4 lb of guanciale or pancetta
- Salt and Pepper
- 3 tbsp of butter
- 1 lemon
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 small bunch of basil
- 1 cup of instant grits
- 2 cup of milk
- 2 cup of reduced sodium chicken broth or fish stock
- 1/4 cup of mascarpone
- If the side muscles are attached, remove them from the scallops. Pat the scallops dry.
- Cube the guanciale into a small dice.
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the guanciale. Cook the guanciale until it is golden and just crisp and the fat has rendered. Remove the guanciale from the pan and drain on a plate lined with a piece of paper towel.
- Reserve about 1 tbsp of the fat from the guanciale, leaving it in the pan. Discard the rest. Heat the pan over medium high heat. When the fat is hot and a scallop sizzles when it is placed in the pan, add the scallops and cook about 2.5 minutes. Flip the scallops and cook an additional 2.5 minutes. The scallops should be golden brown on the top and bottom and milky white inside. The flesh should also be firm.
- Season with salt and pepper if needed. Be careful as the guanciale could be salty!
- Set the scallops aside and tent with foil to keep warm.
- Zest the lemon with a microplane or small grater making sure to get only the zest and not the bitter pith. Slice the lemon in half
- Finely chop the garlic.
- Wash and finely chop the basil
- In a medium pot, heat the butter over medium low heat. When the butter is melted, add the garlic and let it cook slowly until it is soft and fragrant.
- Add the milk and stock and bring it to a boil. When the liquid boils add the grits, lower the heat to a simmer and cook until thickened and tender. (Follow the manufacturer's instructions and liquid suggestions.)
- Whisk in the mascarpone cheese.
- Add the lemon zest and basil to taste.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Scoop the grits into a bowl.
- Top with scallops and pieces of guanciale.
- Add a few drops of lemon juice over the scallops.
- Serve hot.
And what to serve with this dish? How about some roasted lava beans! They are simple to do. Roasting makes pealing the beans unnecessary. Shell the beans, toss them with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast them at 400F for about 15 minutes until they are tender! They are tasty this way and a great addition to the scallop and grits.
I hope you enjoy!
Keep Eating! Keep Innovating!
What is your favorite way to cook scallops? Have any tips to share? Let us know all about it in the comments or on Facebook.
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