Pimento Cheese Grits

Pimiento Cheese Grits with Pepper-Seared Sea Scallops and Red Pepper Sauce

This dish brings together five of my favorite ingredients: pimientos, grits, sharp cheddar
cheese, sea scallops, and black pepper. The creamy grits take on the flavors of the
pimientos and cheddar cheese and make a great accompaniment for the pepper-seared sea

Serves 6

The Pimiento Cheese Grits

Makes 6 cups

6 cups water
1 2/3 cups coarse stone-ground white grits
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped red bell pepper
8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese
1/2 tablespoon salt
Dash of white pepper

Bring the water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed stockpot or large saucepan. Slowly pour in
the grits, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and continue to stir so that the grits
do not settle to the bottom and scorch. After 8 to 10 minutes, the grits will plump up.
Cook the grits over low heat for another 25 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the
cream, butter, cheese, and the roasted peppers. Cook an additional 10 minutes to melt the
cheese and allow peppers to flavor the grits. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
The grits will have a thick natural creamy consistency, and will have become soft and
silky. Keep covered and warm until ready to serve. If the grits become too thick, add
warm water to adjust the consistency.

The Red Pepper Sauce

Makes 1 3/4 cups

1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup roughly chopped yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon roughly chopped garlic
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup red pepper flesh from 2 large roasted red peppers chopped, or 2 (4-ounce) jars
pimientos, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Salt to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and
garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Reduce the heat and make a roux by adding the flour and
stirring until well combined. Continue to cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring
constantly. Do not let the onions or flour color. Turn up the heat to medium and, stirring
vigorously, add 3/4 cups of chicken broth. Continue stirring vigorously until the broth
thickens and is smooth. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup of chicken broth, the red
pepper strips or the pimiento, and the basil, stirring constantly until the broth thickens
into a sauce.

Bring the sauce to a low boil, then simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes to cook
out the starchy flavor of the flour. Skim off any skin that may come to the top and
discard. Remove the sauce from the stove and let it cool, stirring occasionally, for 10
minutes. Puree the mixture in a food processor or blender until smooth. Season to taste
with salt and cayenne pepper. Use at once or place in a storage container, let cool to
room temperature, cover, and refrigerate. Red Pepper Sauce will keep for a week in the

The Scallops

12 large sea scallops
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
4 tablespoons light olive oil
2 ounces white cheddar cheese, cut in a small dice for garnish
1/2 recipe Red Pepper Sauce

Season the sea scallops with the black pepper and salt on the flattest surface of each
scallop. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan to the smoking point. Gently
place the scallops seasoned-side down in the hot oil. Allow them to sear for 1 minute.
Carefully lift the scallops so that the oil can get under each one. Continue to sear,
adjusting the heat if necessary, until a golden crust or sear is obtained. Gently turn the
scallops over and cook them on the other side for 4 to 5 minutes. They should still be
a little translucent in the center. Remove them from the heat and allow to rest for a

Divide the grits between 6 warm serving plates. Arrange two scallops beside the grits and
sprinkle with the cheddar cheese and a drizzle of red pepper sauce.

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