It’s that time of year here on Chincoteague. When a friend or neighbor will knock on your door, and present you with a Ziploc bag full of freshly caught scallops, soft shell crabs, drum fish, shrimp…whatever happens to be good on the docks or our little roadside seafood markets that day. It’s pretty much my favorite time of year on our little island, aside from Pony Penning…
So when my BFF stopped by last week with these gorgeous scallops, it made me feel one step closer to full-blown summer. I’d also happened to restock my supply of Geechie Boy grits last week too. While shrimp & grits is a regular on our menu this time of year, I thought – why not scallops instead?
Seasoned them simply with some of my homemade seasoning salt and pepper, gave them a quick sear. Happened to some fresh spinach on hand that needed to be used, so I sauteed that with a little bit of garlic and champagne vinegar – which did a great job of deglazing the pan and bringing all that awesome flavor into the dish. I think kale or chard would also be wonderful in place of the spinach!
The grits are a perfect accompaniment, because they kind of take care of themselves on the stove while you get the scallops squared away. Also, grits are so versatile when it comes to different flavors. I wanted something with a little bit of a coastal twist – so I stirred in some Old Bay right before serving. Life changing, ya’ll…
Served with a lovely local Rosé and a salad, it was the perfect way to break-in dinners on the back porch season for us!
Seared Scallops with Old Bay Grits
1.5 lbs dry-packed scallops
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz fresh spinach
1/2 cup white wine (like Chardonnay)
For the grits:
1 cup stone-ground grits
2 1/2 cups milk (whole or 2%)
2 Tbsp butter
2 cups water
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp Old Bay
Place the 2 cups of milk, water, and the grits into a 2-quart saucepan. Cover, and turn the heat to medium high. When mixture comes to a simmer add butter, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and reduce the heat to low. Stir every couple of minutes until the grits have become fragrant, and are the consistency of thick soup, for about 20 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup milk, stir, and cook for 10 minutes more. Stir in Old Bay, and season to taste with additional salt. If your grits thicken too quickly, or if they are too gritty for your taste, add water by the half cup, stirring to incorporate, and continue cooking until tender. Set aside and cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, cook the scallops. Dry scallops well with paper towel. Place on platter or baking sheet and season both sides with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add half of the butter and olive oil, coating the bottom of pan. Quickly (and carefully) add 10-12 scallops to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, until nice and brown. Remove to another plate, and set aside. Repeat with remaining scallops, adding more butter and oil as necessary.
Once all scallops are cooked, reduce heat to medium-high and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, followed by the garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach and toss for about a minute until wilted. Remove to the same plate as the scallops.
Add the wine, and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze. Cook over medium-high heat until reduced by half. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place a bed of grits on the plate using a ladle. Top with about 1/3 cup of the spinach, followed by the scallops, then drizzle with the wine reduction.