Recipe of the week
Scallops with brown butter: A simple dish perfected
Scallops can be glorious or not so much; it’s “all about proper technique,” said chef and James Beard Award winner Justin Devillier in The New Orleans Kitchen (Lorena Jones Books). I serve them regularly at my two New Orleans restaurants even though our local seafood is unmatched in its abundance of variety. The rich, nutty flavor of cold-water shellfish and the toasty flavor of brown butter are “a match made in heaven,” and so I keep revisiting it.
“True scallop glory comes from perfecting a sear that creates a uniform, crispy golden brown crust.” To achieve that effect, you should purchase dry-packed scallops, pat them completely dry prior to seasoning, and make sure the pan and oil are hot enough before cooking begins. Basting them after they’re flipped builds the crust even more.
Recipe of the week
Seared scallops with garlicky brown butter pan sauce
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp honey
Juice of ½ lemon
1½ cups unsalted butter
1 shallot, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced, lightly salted, then mashed with the side of a knife
1 lb dry-packed scallops (about 12)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp thyme leaves
1 tbsp minced chives
1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves Freshly squeezed lemon juice
In a mixing bowl, combine vinegar, mustard, honey, and lemon juice and stir to combine.
In a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Butter will brown once its water cooks out. When butter is lightly toasted around edges, remove pan from heat and let sit 1 minute to continue carryover cooking. Add shallot and garlic to pan and stir to soften. Scrape toasted butter bits from the pan; they hold great flavor. Once butter has cooled slightly, whisk it into the bowl with the sherry-Dijon mixture to thoroughly combine (it will not emulsify).
Dry scallops with a paper towel and season both sides with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Heat a large heavy sauté pan or cast-iron skillet over high heat, add oil, and heat until shimmering. Add scallops; they should sizzle and start searing right away. Let them sear, untouched, for 5 minutes, then flip one to check—it should be crusty, crispy, and a uniform golden brown. Flip all scallops and sear other side to desired doneness, about 2 minutes for medium-rare to medium. Remove scallops from pan and drain oil, but don’t rinse pan.
Off the heat, add sauce to pan to warm it, scraping up any seared bits from bottom of pan. Add herbs. Just before serving, taste sauce and season with salt and pepper, if needed, and add fresh lemon juice. Plate the scallops and spoon sauce over them. Serves 4 to 6. ■