Justin Chapple makes the dinner party-worthy dish on this week’s episode of Mad Genius.
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If you happened to catch our recent love letter to cooking with leftover wine, you know there's a lot you can do with a few extra cups, from making your own red wine vinegar to transforming Riesling into brilliantly colored wine gummies. For those with Sancerre on hand, you're in luck—this week's episode of Mad Genius features a recipe that calls for two cups of the French wine, and results in a dish that's elegant, quick, and fit for a special occasion (or any night you're feeling fancy, really).

"We are going to take that citrusy, mineral-driven wine, [and] team it up with some scallops in this recipe," says Food & Wine Culinary Director-at-Large Justin Chapple. "Plus, we're going to be incorporating a poaching technique that is going to cook those scallops perfectly."

Enter his recipe for Sancerre-Poached Scallops with Soft Grits, which pair creamy, cheesy grits with pillowy wine-poached scallops and a buttery hazelnut topping. A sprinkle of fresh snipped chives is the finishing touch. The entire meal takes just 35 minutes to make, making it ideal for entertaining. And if you happen to have more Sancerre to use up? A glass on the side would certainly work. To make the dish at home, read on for Justin's method and follow along with the video above.

Start with the Grits

First, start with the base of the recipe: the grits. You'll need chicken stock or low-sodium broth, water, quick-cooking grits, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, some unsalted butter, and kosher salt and pepper for seasoning. Combine the stock and water in a medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil; then, gradually stir in the grits and let them simmer over moderately low heat until they're nice and tender, stirring frequently as they cook.

Once the grits are done, remove them from the heat, stir in the butter and cheese, and taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper as desired. Don't worry if they seem too thick—you can always thin them out with a little bit of water. Keep them warm over very low heat while you work on the rest of the recipe. 

Meanwhile…

While the grits cook, get going on the poaching liquid. Melt a little more unsalted butter in a different medium saucepan over moderate heat, and add the sliced shallot and crushed garlic cloves. Throw in a generous pinch of salt and let the mixture cook until it's softened. At this point, grab your Sancerre and carefully pour it in, bringing the mixture to a simmer. If you don't have Sancerre, Sauvignon Blanc works, too.

Add the Scallops

Once the wine mixture has reached a simmer, it's time for the stars of the show—the scallops—to take center stage. Justin's recipe calls for jumbo sea scallops, and he notes to use dry-packed ones. (Aka, don't use ones with added liquid or ones that are stored in liquid.) Make sure to remove the side muscle from them as well. Then, add the scallops to the saucepan one at a time, starting with the larger ones to ensure they're all evenly cooked. Let them simmer until they're cooked through. Justin recommends flipping them over halfway through the poach.

Once done, transfer the scallops to a plate and keep them warm, and either discard the poaching liquid or reserve it for another use. You can use it to make the dish again, or try poaching shrimp in it as well.

Warm the Hazelnuts

While the scallops cook, toast the hazelnuts. Justin demonstrates a neat trick for quickly removing their skins with a kitchen towel. Once the skins are off, warm them in a small skillet with some melted butter and get ready to build your meal.

Sancerre-Poached Scallops with Soft Grits

Credit: © Con Poulos

Assemble and Serve

With the grits, scallops, and hazelnuts ready, you're all set to eat. Divide the grits between four bowls, and top them with three scallops each. Next, spoon the buttery hazelnut topping over each bowl, and finish them off with a garnish of snipped chives. When you take a bite, make sure to get a little bit of everything on your fork.

"[The scallops] are succulent and they really picked up that citrusy, mineral-y taste of the Sancerre," Justin says after trying the dish. "I am telling you ladies and gentlemen, there is no need to confine your wine to a glass. Get some Sancerre, get some grits, get some hazelnuts, but do not forget the scallops. Happy poaching."

Get the Recipe: Sancerre-Poached Scallops with Soft Grits