Thursday, January 17, 2013

Seared Scallops with Rosemary Pan Sauce

Sometimes, I try to be sophisticated. I put on high heels, maybe a pearl necklace and a peplum shirt. I drink wine from wine glasses and wear burgundy lipsticks.

Sometimes, I fail at trying to be sophisticated. I wear sweatpants and Budweiser t-shirts. I pay $10 for a bottle of wine that I drink out of a solo cup.

Today, however, I outdid myself on many sophisticated culinary levels.

Sorry, here I go tooting my own horn again (see: Homemade Pretzels)--I will try to stop doing that if you promise to try this tasty and elegant scallops

I love seafood but I rarely find myself cooking it at home. It's tough when you live with someone who doesn't eat seafood.

I thought scallops would be a good place to start my seafood-at-home adventure, which started tonight. These tasty bites are extremely versatile and pair well with many different flavors. For example, bacon. Scallops and bacon love each other.

And I love scallops and bacon.

I used bacon as the base to a buttery pan sauce which is ultimately spooned over the scallops. There is a little flavor building involved, but the finished dish is sure to rock your world.

I crisped up bacon in my new cast iron skillet (can also use a deep, heavy bottomed frying pan).

Then I sautéed mushrooms and spinach in some bacon fat and unsalted butter. Mix in minced garlic along with the bacon bits and set aside.

Now we are going sear our scallops...get the skillet good and hot (this is why the cast iron is best...those babies get HOT). Sear in bacon fat and butter for 3 minutes on each side.

Do you see that golden brown crust? When you get that golden brown crust, pat yourself on the've done your taste-buds well. 

After the scallops are cooking we will make our pan sauce, which comes from the Joy of Cooking cookbook (an essential kitchen staple!)

Thinly sliced leeks.

Cooked until nice and brown.

Orange juice, to deglaze the pan and pick up any browned bits from the bottom.

Chicken stock. A sprig of rosemary. Large pieces of orange zest.

A swirl of butter finishes the sauce and makes it ready for serving over our seared scallops.

This sauce can also be made after pan frying chicken breasts, steak, and lamb. I enjoyed the delicate flavor of the leeks and rosemary with the scallops.

To serve, top a bed of spinach with 3 scallops and gently spoon sauce over the crispy tops.

If I were trying to impress a special someone, I think I would make them this dish. The scallops are tender and soak up all the flavors of the salty bacon, sweet orange, nutty rosemary and buttery mushrooms. Everything is cooked up in a single pan, leading to a build up of flavors I can't put into words (and easy clean up). I highly suggest you spoil yourself and cook up some scallops tonight!

Here's what you need for Seared Scallops and Rosemary Pan Sauce:

3 slices bacon
1 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms
2 cups spinach
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 stick of unsalted* butter, divided into 4 tablespoons
1 pound sea scallops
1 small leek, white parts only, cleaned well and sliced thin
1 orange, juiced and reserve 3 large pieces of zest
1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 sprig rosemary
Cracked black pepper to taste

Here's what you do:

Heat a 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, crisp the bacon. Set aside to cool and drain on a paper-towel lined plate.
Place scallops between two paper towels and keep dry before searing.
In the bacon grease, sautee the mushrooms until brown and nutty, about 5 minutes. Wilt in the spinach (adding more butter if necessary) and stir in the garlic.
Break the bacon into bite-sized pieces and stir back into the spinach and mushrooms. Remove the mixture of the pan and cover with tinfoil to keep warm.
Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan and increase the heat just slightly. Add all of the scallops and sear, undisturbed, 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate and loosely cover with foil to keep warm.
Reduce heat back to medium/medium low. Add 1 more tablespoon of butter and sautee the leeks until browned and lightly tender about 5 minutes.
Stir in the orange juice and scrap along the bottom of the pan to release the browned bits on the bottom. Bring to a boil then simmer about 3 to 4 minutes.
Stir in the chicken stock and add the rosemary and orange zest. Simmer on low until heated through and reduced, about 5 minutes more. Add cracked pepper to taste.
Turn the heat off and gently swirl in the last bit of butter. Remove the rosemary and zest before serving.
Arrange the scallops over a heaping spoonful of the spinach. Immediately spoon the pan sauce over the top and serve.

*Note - I HIGHLY suggest unsalted butter. The bacon is naturally salty and the flavor of that salt will get through to everything because it cooks in the same pan as the fat. I didn't even need to add salt to my pan sauce. Season with cracked black pepper instead!

1 comment:

  1. Quick note about the pan sauce - if you are making it with another protein, drain off all but one tablespoon of the fat from the meat. This will keep the flavors nice and balanced. You also wouldn't need to cook your veggies in the same pan if you wanted to switch out the spinach and mushrooms for something else like steamed broccoli.