True grits

FAST AND FRESH

September 09, 1992|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Contributing Writer

Grits, that simple and rather comically named byproduct of coarsely ground hominy, have been a part of Southern cooking for generations. This simple corn product is usually served as a creamy, warm breakfast dish which replaces home fries. Southerners "fancy up" their grits by adding cheese and using them in a casserole or as the base for barbecued fare.

This version rivals the interesting treatments Italians use for their cornmeal favorite, polenta -- an item that is turning up more frequently these days in the trendiest restaurants.

Use the old fashioned grits for this recipe (not the instant) for they have more character. For maximum flavor use chicken broth instead of water and replace the typical, bland Cheddar cheese with fresh Parmesan. Large sea scallops take mere minutes to prepare when tossed with a thick and zesty barbecue sauce and then baked at a very high temperature. They can also be skewered and charcoal grilled if you prefer.

A tossed vegetable and green salad is all that is needed to balance the entree. Warm pecan pie makes a fitting dessert, whether purchased from your favorite bakery or from the frozen department of your supermarket.

Items you should have in your pantry include: 1 can 13-14 ounces chicken broth, Parmesan cheese, barbecue sauce, salad dressing and salt and pepper.

Your 10-item-or-less shopping list:

1 box yellow or white hominy grits (usually found in the cereal aisle)

1 1/2 pounds sea scallops

fresh vegetables and greens for salad (from the supermarket salad bar)

pecan pie or tarts

Barbecued scallops on cheese grits

Serves 4.

1 1/2 pounds fresh sea scallops, blotted very dry with paper towels

1 cup thick barbecue sauce

3/4 cup grits

1 can (13-14 ounces) chicken broth plus water to equal 2 1/2 cups

1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 475 degrees. Grease a flat baking sheet pan. Place 2 1/2 cups liquid and grits in a 1 1/2 quart microwave bowl and add about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir to mix. Microwave for 12 to 15 minutes total, stirring after every three minutes. When grits are thick and creamy, stir in Parmesan cheese. Cover grits to stay warm while the scallops are baking. They will continue to thicken so you may need to add a bit more water until desired texture is achieved.

Place the scallops on the baking sheet and toss with the barbecue sauce and spread them out to bake quickly. Bake 7 to 10 minutes or until they are firm to the touch. (They don't need much cooking time.)

Spoon a generous dollop of cheese grits on each plate and top with even portions of scallops and barbecue sauce.

Serve the tossed salad family style in one large bowl or platter.

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