Sometimes it’s important to be so good to yourself you’re bordering on hedonism – just to let yourself know you appreciate…yourself. Whether you’re on a new diet (crap on that,) putting in extra at the office, or traipsing store to store in search of the perfect holiday gift for, it seems, everyone alive, it’s important to remember to look out for number one.
That’s where this easy yet indulgent meal comes in. Meals like this (Seared Scallops with fennel sauce, broccoli rabe, and quinoa) make me feel like I’ve splurged on an expensive evening out…only without the next-day sticker shock that happens when I find a receipt from the previous night’s meal crumpled in my overcoat.
I find that I tend to forget to cook scallops at home, and then I am positively compelled to order them whenever I go out because I don’t have them often. So, when I saw a small selection of very fresh looking scallops at Ellwood T’s, I scooped them right up.
The most important advice I can give about sea scallop cookery is to make sure that the scallops are dry when they hit the (amply preheated) pan. Any moisture on the surface of the scallop will prevent you from obtaining a clean, crisp sear and will likely render your final product…rubbery. Rubbery scallops are abysmal. Avoid them at all costs. Dry your scallops on a kitchen towel, and season both sides before adding to the pan, and you should be safe. If you can find dry-packed scallops, buy them.
Also noteworthy is the removal of scallop feet, a task that’s quite easy and not at all as brutal as it sounds. On the side of the scallop, there will be a little scallop-colored ‘tag,’ that may be just a shade different in color and appear more opaque. You’ll find it easy to remove with your fingers. It’s texture is pretty unappealing to munch on, so go ahead and take them off.*
Beyond those two points, this recipe is pretty straight-forward. One final note, however, is that I had originally intended to remove the fennel from the fennel sauce, but once I tasted a sliver of the soft, wine-imbued, creamy fennel, I decided to include it on the plate. Cause it’s yumtimes.
Seared Scallops with Fennel Sauce
1 T. olive oil
approximately 6 sea scallops (prepped as per directions above)
1 bulb fennel, green stem and tough outer leaves removed, sliced thin
1/2 c. white wine, such as pinot grigio
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 1/2 – 2 sticks (6-8oz butter,) room temperature, cubed
2 T. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil on medium high in a heavy-bottomed saute pan. Add scallops one at a time, and sear for 2-4 minutes on the first side. Flip scallops, and sear an additional 2-4 minutes. Remove scallops from the pan, and keep warm.
Add fennel to pan with a small amount more olive oil if necessary, and saute for about a minute. Deglaze the pan with the pinot grigio, add the sprig of thyme, cover, and simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Remove the lid, and allow to reduce for an additional 4 minutes.
As soon as there is barely any liquid left in the pan, add the heavy cream. As soon as the heavy cream begins to boil,whisk in the butter, a few cubes at a time, making sure the butter mixes smoothly with the cream before adding more. You may not need all 8 oz.
Serve the scallops over a quinoa pilaf with fennel sauce and roasted broccoli rabe. Once your food digests, go foraging for a cream cheese brownie……..
*You can use scallop feet and other seafood scraps to make a mousse; stand by for a recipe…