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THE Dish: Ted Allen's Scallops with Cheese Grits

(CBS News) NEW YORK -- Celebrity chef Ted Allen started his career as an editor for Chicago magazine's book section, and ended up as its food critic.

Eventually, he landed in Bravo's Emmy-winning and groundbreaking show, "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," and now, he's host of the Food Network's hugely popular show, "Chopped.".

In May, "Chopped" got two awards from the James Beard Foundation, one for the show itself and the other for Ted as host.

He's also a frequent contributor to the Food Network's "Best Thing I Ever Ate" and recently released his latest cookbook, "In My Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Discoveries for Passionate Cooks."

On top of all that, Ted also finds time to be a contributing writer for Esquire magazine.

He stopped by "CBS This Morning: Saturday" to offer recipes for his ultimate dish, Scallops with Cheese Grits, and more.

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Blog: "What's Cooking"
Special section: Food and Wine


Scallops and Cheddar Grits with Chorizo

Serves 4

The first time I had the Southern classic, shrimp and grits, was on-set during the filming of "Top Chef" in Miami, brilliantly prepared by Dallas-based chef Tre Wilcox in a taco truck. I've been hooked ever since. Here, the same idea, but with sea scallops -- also a sweet shellfish, and one that needs no peeling or deveining. Scallops are particularly friendly with salty, spicy pork, whether it's fancy Italian ham, good old bacon or, in this case, the spicy Spanish sausage that rounds out this dish.

  • Kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup grits
  • 6 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (1-1/2 cups)
  • 16 sea scallops, trimmed of tough muscle flap (if present)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 link (about 4 ounces) cooked, Spanish-style chorizo, casing removed, cut into matchsticks or just crumbled
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions (white and green parts)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Always insist upon "dry" scallops. "Wet" scallops have been soaked in sodium tripolyphosphate, which gives them a longer shelflife by helping them retain excess moisture and which, accordingly, makes them hard to brown and obscures their sweet flavor. Also, before cooking, check scallops for any residual bits of connective muscle, which look like little flaps on the side of the cylindrical critters; it is almost always left attached to the yummy part, and is inedibly tough.

1. Preheat the oven to its lowest temperature (usually 170 degrees F) for warming.

2. In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring 3-1/2 cups water to a boil, and add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Slowly stir the grits into the water, pouring the grits in a fine stream. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the Cheddar, cover, and keep warm in the oven.

3. Ten minutes into cooking the grits, pat dry the scallops, season them with salt on both sides, and heat a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil to the pan, then the chorizo, and cook until the sausage renders some fat, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the scallops, shake the pan to move them around a little, and sear for 2 minutes. Turn and continue cooking until browned, 2 minutes. Remove the scallops to a plate lined with a paper towel, and place in the oven. Keep the chorizo in the pan.

4. Reduce the heat under the pan to medium, and add the scallions, garlic, and lemon juice. Cook for 2 minutes, and remove from the heat.

5. On each of 4 plates, make a bed of grits, then place the scallops on top, and drizzle pan sauce and chorizo on and around the scallops and grits. Serve quickly.

Added value: Here's a worthwhile discovery that you can apply pretty much throughout the grocery store: Most products labeled "quick" or "instant" are barely any faster than the real thing, invariably have been packed with weird, bad-tasting, science-y ingredients, and always cost more money. This kind of stuff is invented because there aren't many ways for food companies to increase their profit on the sale of, say, an apple. They have to add value to that apple. So they slice half an apple, sprinkle it with a preservative, and seal it in a single-serving bag: Voila! A ready-packed snack to sell for easily twice the price of a humble piece of fruit, and with a shelflife of months and the opportunity to emblazon a colorful brand logo on a piece of plastic packaging. All of which is to say, creepy. For me, real food, please.

For more recipes, go to Page 2.

Grilled Chile-Lime Shrimp with Israeli Couscous, Mango, and Zucchini

serves 4

Shrimp are such little flavor sponges; just a short plunge in this Caribbean-feeling marinade, and they become vivid, spicy, and bright. I love toothsome Israeli couscous, and toasting the little pearls takes these beads of pasta to a whole new level. Pairing it with mango and zucchini, which I cut in big slices and grill before dicing, brings juicy sweetness to the party.


  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1-1/2 pounds medium shrimp in the shell


  • 2 cups Israeli couscous
  • 1 mango
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing
  • 2-1/2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade, or low-sodium store-bought
  • 1/2-to-1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

1. Marinate the shrimp: In a medium bowl, stir together the lime zest, juice, olive oil, soy, jalapeno, cilantro, garlic, sugar, chili powder, and cayenne. Peel the shrimp, leaving on the tails, and devein.

2. Rinse, and then pat completely dry with paper towels. Put the shrimp in a large zipper bag, pour the marinade over, close the bag, pushing out any air, and rub the marinade into the shrimp. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

3. Preheat a grill to medium-high.

4. Make the couscous: In a dry, medium saucepan over medium-low heat, toast the couscous, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside.

5. Peel the mango, stand it on its end with a skinny edge facing you, and run your knife close to the seed core to cut 2 slices off each of the two sides, making 4 slices, each 1/2 inch thick. (Eat the remaining mango for a snack) Slice the zucchini lengthwise into 1/3-to-1/2-inch slices.

6. Brush the mango and zucchini pieces with vegetable oil on both sides and grill until charred and tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool, and then cut into 1/2-inch chunks.

7. In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the toasted couscous, stir, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 7 minutes. Add the mango, zucchini, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the butter, and parsley; cook for 1 minute. Taste for seasoning and doneness. Keep warm.

8.Put the shrimp on a cutting board and nestle them together in groups of 6. Using 2 skewers for each group (this keeps them from falling into the grill and makes them easier to turn), skewer the shrimp. Grill the shrimp until just cooked through, 2 minutes per side, and serve on top of the couscous.

Heirloom Gazpacho Salad with Grilled Bread and Crab

Serves 4 as an entree

The flavors of gazpacho are the perfect distillation of sunshine and heat: sweet, tangy, spicy. For me, they are summer. One of my favorite days of the year, by far: the day the heirloom tomatoes finally show up at my farmers' market in Brooklyn's Fort Greene Park. I buy green zebras, Italian hearts, black princes -- invariably way too many -- and run home to make Caprese salads, panzanellas, uncooked tomato sauce for pasta, and of course, the famous cold soup of Spain, usually slurping it down before there's any time for chilling. Then, this past summer, I had a eureka moment: Why was I chilling a soup made of tomatoes, which suppresses their sweetness? Why use a machine to liquefy vegetables that are at their peak flavor and texture? Worse, why buy expensive heirlooms and then eliminate the ability to differentiate their wildly different tastes and colors?

And so, a gazpacho salad was born.

  • 4 (1-inch-thick) diagonal slices baguette or other crusty bread
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 3 medium garlic cloves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-1/2 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 4 radishes, shaved paper thin
  • 1/4 medium red onion, sliced paper thin
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cilantro or tarragon leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, rolled and sliced into thin slivers
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Tabasco
  • 4 large red leaf lettuce leaves
  • Up to 1 pound lump crabmeat, optional

The crab is completely optional: It could just as easily be seared tuna, marinated tofu, or fresh mozzarella, and simply serves to make the salad a great lunch entree. If opting for crab, pick over it and remove any shell fragments, but do remember to handle it carefully to preserve the large, sweet chunks.

1. Preheat a grill, grill pan, or broiler to high.

2. Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil and grill until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Cut 1 of the garlic cloves in half and rub one side of each toast with the garlic. Sprinkle the toasts with salt, cut into 1-inch squares, and set aside.

3. Slice the tomatoes into bite-size chunks and place them in a large bowl, taking care to catch any juices on the cutting board and direct them into a small bowl. Add the cucumber, radishes, onion, and bell pepper to the tomatoes.

4. To make the vinaigrette, chop the remaining 2 garlic cloves, then add 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, and mash into a paste with a sturdy fork. Add to the small bowl with the reserved tomato juices along with the vinegar, cilantro, basil, and hot sauce. Then, whisking constantly, add the olive oil in a thin stream to combine.

5. To assemble, place 1 leaf of red leaf lettuce on each of 4 plates. Add the croutons to the tomato mixture, drizzle with vinaigrette, and toss gently so as not to break up the tomatoes. Taste for seasoning, add salt if needed, and divide the mixture in unruly piles on the plates.

Put the crabmeat in the empty tomato bowl and toss very gently to absorb the remaining dressing. Divide among the plates, and give thanks that February is far, far away, and serve.

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