Succulent sea scallops rubbed with an easy Cajun spice blend, pan-seared, and served over creamy grits loaded with sweet fresh corn and melty smoked cheddar. All finished with a quick pan sauce and crisp bacon for the EASIEST meal that tastes like it came out of a 5-star restaurant.
I thought I liked grits.
Then I added tender sweet corn, fresh garlic, and dreamy smoked cheddar, and realized I had NO IDEA. The textures and flavors here surpass any grits I have tried in the past, and that’s before we even start talking about the spiced scallops, pan sauce, and bacon on top. If you can’t find smoked cheddar, any good-quality cheddar or smoked gouda would also be fantastic options.
The Cajun-inspired rub is simple to mix and customizable to be as hot or mild as you like (but still super flavorful either way). It works beautifully on any seafood and is definitely one to keep around.
For the scallops, this is the time to splurge on fresh sea scallops, the big juicy ones. Normally, I am all for frozen options (shrimp, most fish, other meats and vegetables), but scallops are one of the few foods that do not respond well to freezing; the taste can get fishy and the texture chewy. But pick out some fresh sea scallops, dry them, and pan-sear them until they just begin to turn opaque, and they will melt in your mouth like heaven every single time. They’re so delectable and satisfying that you don’t need many for a serving, and every bite is sooooooo worth the cost.
You’d be shocked to know that the magical pan sauce comes together with only broth, wine, and a splash of lemon (no butter!); the bacon and scallop residues do most of the work. Just simmer it down a couple minutes, and you’re left with a beautiful thickened glaze that’s EXPLODING with flavor. Try not to lick the skillet while it’s still hot.
Here on the side I sautéed broccolini (baby broccoli) with a little EVOO, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon juice. (This can be done in the same skillet after removing the pan sauce sauce to minimize clean-up!) Plus of course there’s some soft crusty multi-grain hanging around there too.
Finally, you get to gawk at your beautiful romantic creation, the perfect meal for special occasions, date nights, family dinners, or just Tuesdays by yourself. Enjoy!