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Food Network has always embraced LGBTQ+ people — both on-camera and in the executive suite — and I’m proud to be part of the family. Those values were also true of my first TV home on Bravo, whose original ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’ was the reason my husband and I uprooted our lives in Chicago and moved to New York City.
Shortly after Queer Eye ended, I was judging Bravo’s ‘Top Chef’ in Miami when I first experienced shrimp and grits. This recipe is my take on the classic but made with grilled sea scallops, crispy bacon, fresh arugula, grilled polenta, and avocado assembled into a simple summer salad that’s perfect for serving as a side or a main. As the Fab Five always said, “Cheers, queers!”
Grilled Polenta Squares
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Scallops and Arugula Salad
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 sea scallops, side muscles removed
3 slices smoked cured bacon, chopped
¼ cup finely minced chives
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups fresh arugula
1 Hass avocado, pitted and cut into large pieces
1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Make the polenta squares: Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick spray.
2. In a medium pot over high heat, combine the chicken broth, milk, and butter and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal, then reduce the heat to low and continue whisking for about 5 minutes, until the cornmeal has thickened and all the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the salt. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread in an even layer. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight, until set.
3. Make the scallops: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel and season with salt on both sides. Sear the scallops for about 4 minutes, flipping halfway, until golden brown and opaque. Transfer the scallops to a plate lined with paper towels.
4. Add the bacon to the pan and cook until brown and crispy, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl lined with paper towels to drain. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of excess fat from the pan. Add half the chives, the garlic, and lemon juice to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes, until the chives begin to brown, then remove the pan from the heat.
5. In a medium bowl, toss the arugula with the remaining chives, avocado, remaining tablespoon olive oil, and the champagne vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Heat a grill pan or griddle over medium heat. Cut the polenta into four 4-inch squares, and brush both sides with olive oil. Grill the polenta until warmed through and grill marks appear, about 3 minutes per side.
7. Arrange the polenta squares on a serving platter along with the scallops, bacon, and the arugula and avocado salad. Drizzle with the pan sauce, and season with black pepper. Serve immediately