Scallop, Shrimp, and Cod Skillet with Parmesan Grits and Spinach

DSCN4347Those of you wonderful people who follow my blog know I have a weakness for anything cooked in a cast-iron skillet.  There is something so old-timey about cast iron, and I love how they serve today as both cooking equipment and serving platter – as they do in my house.  Maybe it’s the weight of them; maybe it’s just the tradition of them — I don’t know, but everything seems to taste better in cast iron.  No wonder, then, that tonight’s offering is a one-pan meal: a mixed grill of seared scallops, shrimp, and cod filet, served with piping hot cheese grits and some quick wilted spinach.  Light, healthy, and warming — just the thing for a chilly winter’s night.

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Scallop, Shrimp, and Cod Skillet with Parmesan Grits and Spinach

6 large shrimp, peeled
2-4 large scallops (8oz total), adductor muscles removed
1/2 lb cod filet
6 oz spinach
1 cup grits
4 tbs butter, melted and divided, plus 1 tbs butter, cold
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 lemon

This meal was inspired largely by the super-huge scallops on display at Whole Foods.  They were simply enormous, and my soul ached for them at first glance, but my pocketbook was unprepared for the hefty price-tag which came along with them.  So instead of doing without entirely, I purchased the two fattest bivalves I could find (they came to almost 1/2 lb on their own!), and augmented them with some more reasonably priced seafare — some large tiger shrimp and a nice codfish loin.  The shrimp I peeled while raw, and the fish I cut into bite sized pieces.

DSCN4333This is actually a *very* quick meal, and super-easy — it’s just  the expense that sort of knocks it out of the Weeknight Wondermeal category.  I started by melting my butter, which rather cooled back to room temperature before I started cooking in earnest, while I assembled everything else.  I wash and spin dry my spinach, grate my cheese, and get my grits all measured out.

DSCN4339I divide my melted butter roughly into 6ths, placing 1 dollop into each skillet, which I then position over hot burners.  As soon as the butter has begun to brown, I layer in my seafood, starting with the scallops and fish, which I let sear on one side for about 4 minutes, before flipping each piece carefully.

DSCN4340I then add the shrimp, with a dollop more butter on top to melt over them, which I cook for 2 minutes on each side, making a total of 4 minutes for the fish and scallops.  Y’see, the shrimp doesn’t take as long as the other stuff …

DSCN4341I remove the protiens briefly to a warm plate, which I cover with plastic wrap for a few minutes.

DSCN4338The skillets remain on the heat with their butter still bubbling hot.

DSCN4342In goes my spinach, which I sort of roll around in the butter and let wilt over the heat.

DSCN4343Meanwhile, I’ve made my grits according to the package directions (1 part grits to 3 parts water is the magic ratio), and have added my cold tablespoon of butter and most of my grated cheese, reserving a bit for garnish.

DSCN4344After only a few moments, my spinach is almost completely wilted, with some bits browning and crisping nicely on the pan’s surface.  I push all this to one side, and divide my grits between the two skillets, pouring them next to the spinach.

DSCN4345The fish, scallops, and shrimp get placed back into the skillets, with my last dollops of butter placed on top, before I throw both in a very hot oven for about 8 minutes to heat completely through.

DSCN4346A dash of salt, a sprinkling of pepper, a cross-hatching of shredded cheese, and a wedge of lemon are all the compliments needed for this rich, warm, satisfying seafood dinner.  Each protein brings something different to the plate: the cod is flaky and tender, the shrimp is fresh and firm, and the scallop is sweet and seared to a crisp.  Along with the stick-to-your ribs corn grits and helping of verdant greenery, this is a complete dinner in virtually no time at all.  Dig in and enjoy, my friends.  I sure did.

Broiled Sword, Shrimp, and Scallops with Simple Spinach and Potatoes

Today was a late warm winter wonderland. The wet snow that fell on Tuesday, which yesterday was relatively ho-hum, was—this morning, Thursday—strangely alluring and remarkably beautiful. Stumbling to the bathroom too early in the morning for my pre-work wake-up shower, I was compelled to uncharacteristically fling open the dun-colored curtains, just to see what was shining so brightly. My stunned eyes greeted a brilliant morning sun. The pussy-willow-like peachy-skinned pods on my magnolia tree were proudly bearing their crystallized snow-caps, and I couldn’t help but wipe the sleep out of my eyes, grab my camera, and snap a shot of the blue dawn’s jewel toned sky and shimmering coat of diamonds.

So for tonight, I wanted something hearty but light, and a Red Lobster commercial I saw the other day resonated enough with my limited-to-the-suburbs-childhood-memories to inspire me to make something like what they’d make, only oh so much better. I LOVE broiled seafood, and a “fisherman’s platter” is my idea of prime yumification. My favorite ingredients are scallops and shrimp, but a fish is necessary. I learned at NoName Seafood, however, that swordfish is highly preferable – when broiled correctly – to your standard cod or haddock or (God forbid!) tilapia (which has its place on the table, but not, in my opinion, in a broiled combination platter). Broil those tidbits with some butter, lemon juice, and breadcrumbs, sear off some spinach, and squash up some spuds, and this is a a homemade steakhouse style satisfying seafood dinner.

What you’ll need, for two:

6 large dry sea scallops
4 large (16-20ct) tiger or pink shrimp
½ – ¾ lb slab of fresh swordfish
1 lb spinach
1 stick butter
10 or so mushrooms
1lb (4-6 small) Yukon gold potatoes
1 lemon
panko breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
olive oil

Set your spuds into pan, cover with water, and set to boil. You’ll want to cook them through until easily pierced with a fork – about 40 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 400°.

Cut two pats of butter.

And set one into each of your ceramic monkey dishes. I love these things. I have a weakness for anything served in them. Stick ‘em in your oven for a few minutes.

Until the butter’s melted.

Lemon. LOVE IT. Slice one in half.

Oh, and melt about 2 tbs butter and toss with about 1 cup of panko breadcrumbs.

Add your slab of swordfish to your ramekin, slathering both sides with butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Nestle your scallops and peeled (leave the tails on) shrimp into the remaining space, turning a few times to coat with the melted butter.

Coat the top of your mixed sweets with your buttered breadcrumbs.

Squeeze half your lemon over the whole mess. Place your platters into your preheated oven, and set to roast for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in your Ikeawok on medium high heat. Slice your onions and quarter your mushrooms.

Add your onions and some salt and pepper to your hot oil, and stir constantly. Don’t let the edges brown; rather, let all the juices release, and let everything soften evenly.

After a few moments, add your mushrooms. Toss well and continually.

When your mushrooms and onions are softened and have released a few tablespoons of their liquid, add your washed spinach to the pan. This pound just about fills the whole wok, so I have to sort of move it around, gently flipping it all, to melt the spinach. It will reduce in volume by more than ½.

Spuds split, buttered, and slathered with sea salt and sour cream: check! Spinach sautéed and seared with mushrooms and onions: check! Seafood casserole consisting of silky shrimp, sweet scallops, and steaky swordfish, topped with hot buttered breadcrumbs: holy CHECK! You don’t need to be psychic to see that this dinner is delicious!