Creamy corn grits blended with bits of smoky bacon, sautéed onion and fresh summer corn are the perfect complement to the mild, sweet flavor of seared scallops. A salad or simple green vegetable is all you need to complete this easy, company-worthy meal.
Seared Scallops with Creamy Bacon Grits
- 1-1/2 lbs dry sea scallops, see notes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
For the grits:
- 1/4 lb thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
- 4-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1-1/2 cups white, or yellow corn grits
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1-1/2 cups corn kernels, about 3 ears fresh corn
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Fry the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, drain all but 2 teaspoons of fat from the pan and reserve the remainder for later use.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion. Sauté until soft and just starting to turn golden. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
- Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in the grits and immediately reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring continually, until the liquid is absorbed and the grits are tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add the butter, reserved bacon, sautéed onion and corn. Combine well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside to keep warm.
- Note: Grits will stiffen up a bit as they sit, so you may want to stir in a little warm milk or water just before serving to restore the creamy texture.
- Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and arrange them in a single layer on a large plate. Combine the salt, sweet paprika, black pepper and sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture lightly over the scallops, turn and repeat on the second side.
- Wipe out the pan you cooked the bacon in and heat the butter along with about 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat over medium-high heat. Add the scallops in a single layer and sear until they develop a pale golden crust on the outside, a maximum of 1-1/2 minutes per side (see notes).
- Scallops need about 3/4-inch of space between them in order to sear properly, so if the pan seems overcrowded, cook them in 2 batches.
- Transfer the cooked scallops to a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Reserve the pan juices for serving.
- To serve, plate individual portions of grits, top with scallops and spoon some of the pan juices over all. Garnish with a sprinkling of chopped parsley and serve immediately.