I’ve made this recipe three times in the past 9 months, with the firm intention of blogging about it. The photos never did it justice, and even though I’m still not satisfied with the way the pictures turned out, I must go ahead with the post: this recipe is too good to keep secret! 😉
Cooking scallops can be intimidating, they are expensive and easy to mess up. A few seconds longer in the pan, and their delicate texture is ruined. Dorie Greenspan, in her book “Around my French Table,” offers a great take on scallops, with a sauce that was born to embrace them.
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup orange juice
1 lb sea scallops
2 teaspoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 tablespoon cold butter, cut into 3 pieces
First, make the sauce. Mix the orange juice and white wine in a small bowl and reserve. Sprinkle the sugar into a small saucepan (see my comments on the type of pan I like to use for this). Place the pan over medium-high heat and warm the sugar until it starts to melt and color. As soon as you see the caramel in the pan turning brown, begin to gently swirl the pan. About 3 minutes into the cooking time, when the sugar is deep caramel in color, stand back and add the orange/wine mixture. It will bubble and spatter, just keep stirring with a wooden spoon, and boil until the sauce is reduced by half — you should have about 1/3 cup. Pull the pan from the heat and set it aside. If not using the sauce immediately, you can keep it for a couple of days in the fridge.
Pat the scallops dry between two paper towels. Put the saucepan with the caramel sauce over very low heat so that it can warm while you cook the scallops.
Put a heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. When the pan is hot, pour in 1 tsp olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom. Add the scallops, season them with salt and pepper, add a little more oil if needed, and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, or until the scallops are firm on the outside and just barely opaque in the center. Transfer the scallops to a serving platter.
Check that the caramel sauce is hot, remove the pan from the heat and toss in the butter, bit by bit, swirling the pan until the butter is melted and the sauce is glistening. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, then drizzle some over the scallops, serving additional sauce at the table.
to print the recipe, click here
To make the sauce, my favorite pan is this cute little red skillet from Bialetti. I bought it when we were in Los Angeles because our electric cooking stovetop was so tiny, I had no pan that would fit nicely on it. Since the pan is white, it’s very easy to see the caramel color, no need to guess or transfer a small amount to a white plate.
I strongly advise you to make a double batch of the sauce, I never seem to have enough, it’s so delicious! It would go well on shrimp, and even chicken breasts or pork tenderloin. Slightly sweet, slightly sour, feels complex even though it is made with only a few ingredients.
These scallops are elegant enough to serve for company, although depending on the number of guests I would offer it as a small first course. Everything happens pretty quickly with this recipe, I don’t quite picture myself handling too many for a main dish for more than 2 couples. I know my limitations! 😉
ONE YEAR AGO: Fire-Roasted Tomato Risotto
TWO YEARS AGO: A Special Dinner for Two